COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- COVID-19 has already had a major impact on the state’s economy costing billions of dollars, but what happens next if we continue to see a rise in cases?
Even though many restrictions put in place in response to the coronavirus crisis have been lifted, many industries in the state are still concerned about moving forward and adopting what considered the “new normal”.
The South Carolina tourism industry is slowly bouncing back after taking a big hit beacause of COVID-19.
“Hotel occupancy dropped by 85%, tourism spending dropped by 90%, and airilne traffic dropped by 97%,” explained Duane Parrish, the director of SC Dept. of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
Governor Henry McMaster recently rescinded his executive orders, allowing people to once again eat inside restaurants, enjoy attractions and overnight stays at hotels. It’s a reopening that prompted every industry in the state to change the way it does business.
Duane Parrish: “Employees protecting everyone, that’s wearing the masks. You’ll see sneeze guards at the host desk in hotels or at restaraunt cashiers.”
These measures that went into place when the state was still averaging less than 200 new cases of covid-19 a day. But as of recent those numbers have tripled, once again putting industries like tourism and restaurants on edge.
Bobby Williams, the chair of the SC Restaurant & Lodging Association expressed his concerns,”Social distancing is going to be the answer and wearing face masks for a couple of more weeks. I think there’ s a lot of people that are doing it. A lot of restaurants are but many are not using all of their seating and having huge crowds.”
Guidelines are changing daily to reflect the best practices for the state’s current COVID-19 situation.
Williams added, “In the beginning, we didn’t include the recommendation for masks, and now we’ve put out a new message that employees at hotels and restaurants should where masks.”
Businesses and industries across the state don’t anticipate to have close their doors again, but the industries are stressing the importance of customer responsibility.
“We’ve seen a lot of cabin fever. and people are willing to take somewhat of a risk. everything is a risk, but we’re trying to minimize that risk,” continued Duane Parrish.
SCDPRT expects a 50% decrease in tourism revenue this year.