Officials Block Access to Major South Carolina Beaches After Governor’s Reopening Announcement

April 21, 2020 Updated: April 21, 2020

Three major beaches in South CarolinaMyrtle Beach, Charleston, and Hilton Head—will not reopen immediately, local officials said shortly after Gov. Henry McMaster issued an order allowing all beaches to reopen on Tuesday.

McMaster’s executive order lets local officials reopen beaches closed under an order he made last month. It also gives them the authority to keep beaches closed, for now.

The Myrtle Beach city manager John Pedersen said in an executive order later Monday that beaches will remain closed until one of the following happens: South Carolina’s emergency declaration expires, Myrtle Beach’s City Council says otherwise, or the emergency order is rescinded.

In a joint statement, four beach towns in Charleston County said they would continue denying access to public beaches.

“There is no evidence from medical professionals that indicates that the threat of COVID19 in our region has diminished. South Carolina is still in the acceleration phase and even with the reduction in growth of new cases, new cases could begin to grow quickly if social distancing restrictions are lifted,” they said.

The towns are: the City of Isle Palms, the Town of Sullivan’s Island, the City of Folly Beach, and the Town of Edisto.

Hilton Head manager Steve Riley said beaches remain closed for now but the town’s council will hold an emergency meeting Tuesday to consider a resolution for reopening beaches on April 30.

Epoch Times Photo
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster looks on at a rally in Columbia, South Carolina on June 25, 2018. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Other beaches will reopen under McMaster’s new order.

North Myrtle Beach’s City Council approved a resolution late Monday that will reopen all access points to public beaches, parking areas for the beaches, and showers and bathrooms for beachgoers. People who visit the beaches are asked to follow social distancing measures, including not gathering in groups of more than three people, with exceptions for family units.

“We are opening up our public beach accesses, associated amenities and adjacent parking lots so that people can enjoy some much needed sun and recreation along our nine miles of beach,” said North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley in a statement.

“This will work if beach-goers are responsible and caring of the next person as they enjoy the beach. We are not out of the woods yet in terms of COVID-19 but as our community has shown in the past before this virus arrived, each one of us is capable of monitoring our own behavior, and this is a positive move in the right direction.”

Some other beaches in Horry County were also reopening Tuesday.

Pawleys Island was holding an emergency town council meeting to mull reopening beaches there. Atlantic Beach and Georgetown County didn’t have any announcements as of Tuesday morning.

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