Mayor of Hilton Head closes beach access during coronavirus

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As of Saturday morning, public access points to all beaches on Hilton Head Island have been closed.

All public beach access, parking lots and amenities will be closed for the next 60 days, Hilton Head Island Mayor John McCann told The Island Packet shortly before the start of a press conference. Friday afternoon.

McCann said he would close city beach parks in an effort to keep people apart and at home to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“It’s in response to community outcry,” McCann said. “It’s a matter of safety and health.”

McCann said he has received an ‘overwhelming’ number of concerns about the opening of beaches, and his decision to close public beaches is to prevent sunbathers from other areas from coming to Hilton Head as a ‘last resort’ .

“Everyone is closing their beaches and we don’t want the next wave of people coming here,” he said. “If they can’t go to Tybee, they can’t come here.”

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As people enjoy the beach, Hilton Head Island Mayor John McCann announced Friday, March 20, 2020 that the island’s beach will be closed to all as other mayors and governors have closed beaches due to the COVID-19 virus. “It’s something we need to do for the safety and health of our community,” when McCann was asked if the shutdown was difficult. Drew Martin [email protected]

Beaufort County also closed access to Alljoy Beach in Bluffton on Saturday.

However, the closure of the Hilton Head public beach will not necessarily affect everyone.

The City owns access to the beaches but not the beaches themselves. These are under state control.

People who have access to the private beach through their home or rental will still be able to access the beach, McCann confirmed. Although the city cannot block access points to private beaches, McCann encouraged all visitors and residents to stay off the beaches.

Physical barriers were placed at city beach parks on Saturday morning and all beach parking lots were closed.

The city will begin towing Saturday morning, McCann said.

The announcement comes the same day deputies from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office began dispersing people to beaches and warned the public that deputies would be issuing tickets for drinking on the beach.

SC Gov. Henry McMaster tweeted Friday that he is authorizing local law enforcement and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to disperse people from state beaches if they don’t. were not following his order not to gather in groups.

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A news release from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office alerted beachgoers on Hilton Head Island on Friday, March 20, 2020, of SC Governor Henry McMaster’s executive order prohibiting a group of 50 or more due to the COVID-19 virus. 19. A deputy sheriff’s truck was parked at the entrance to Coligny Beach Park as deputies monitored beach parties using an all-terrain vehicle. Drew Martin The Island Package

Should I still vacation on Hilton Head Island?

The announcement of beach closures may cause visitors to Hilton Head Island to rethink their travel plans.

When asked if tourists should still come for their holidays, McCann said he would “absolutely” tell them to come to the island and enjoy the bike paths and natural beauty of the island outside. from the beach.

City leaders said they wanted to publicize the beach closure before the weekend and before a new wave of travelers headed to South Carolina.

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A housekeeper’s supply cart sits outside a room Friday, March 20, 2020, in an empty parking lot behind the Simple Rewards Inn on Hilton Head Island. Drew Martin [email protected]

While it’s a deeply personal decision to choose to travel, many have taken to Facebook groups and even The Island Packet to ask if they should cancel future trips to Hilton Head.

Here are some facts that can help you make your decision:

  • Restaurants and bars on the island were forced to close dining rooms from Tuesday afternoon. SERG restaurants offer discounts for take-out orders.
  • Public beaches and car parks are closed from March 21.
  • Law enforcement and emergency services are active and responding to calls.
  • A large hotel closed Friday afternoon: Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort
  • Store shelves are empty in many cases. Many shoppers have reported that there are no eggs, breads, paper products and other basics in Beaufort County stores.
  • RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, originally scheduled for April 13-19, has been cancelled.

This story was originally published March 20, 2020 3:04 p.m.

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Katherine Kokal graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and joined The Island Packet’s newsroom in 2018. Before moving to the Lowcountry, she worked as an interviewer and translator for a nonprofit organization. lucrative in Barcelona and two NPR member stations. At The Island Packet, Katherine covers government, environment, development, beaches and the all-important Hilton Head Island Loggerhead Sea Turtle. She has won awards from the South Carolina Press Association for her in-depth reporting, government reporting, business reporting, growth and development reporting, food writing, and use of social media.

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