Despite warnings from health officials that lifting social distancing measures too early could lead to a new surge of coronavirus cases, people living in South Carolina and Florida are now able to soak up the sun. A number of beaches in the states that were forced to close due to coronavirus lockdowns have now reopened, and are accepting sunbathers.
Just hours after South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster lifted a two-week-old executive order that closed all public access to beaches, giving local jurisdictions the authority to enact their own rules. North Myrtle Beach City Council unanimously voted to reopen beaches in the tourist hotspot. Stating that the decision was an appropriate measure, officials acknowledged that they were putting faith in people to act smartly.
"We're putting a lot of confidence in the people of our community but we have a lot of smart people and they’ve done a very good job so far and I'm trusting that they will listen and continue doing the good job that they have done," Mayor Marilyn Hatley said, Myrtle Beach Online reports. "If they don’', we can always go back and close it but I don't think we'll have to do it."
Although the new rules went into effect at midday Tuesday, beachgoers hit the shore as early as 10 .a.m., with police continuing to patrol the beaches and enforce restrictions. While most people obeyed the social distancing measures, the outlet reports that larger groups of teens were seen grouped together near Garden City Pier.
Similar measures have been taken in Florida, with both Satellite Beach and Cocoa Beach officially reopening for sunbathing, sitting in chairs, and other all other activities so long as groups are kept to five or less. The reopening comes after beachgoers were limited to walking, jogging, biking, fishing, surfing and swimming after a safer at home order went into effect April 2, according to Floridatoday.com.0comments
"The City would like to thank our community for continuing to abide by the social distancing measures we have put in place at our beaches to safeguard our residents during this pandemic response. Since these measures have been put in place, the beaches have been areas of strong compliance, while still giving our residents a place to exercise and relax," Satellite Beach City Manager Courtney Barker wrote Facebook post Tuesday. "As such, the City is now allowing all beach activities to take place, including sunbathing and sitting on the beach. However, we will be limiting activities on the beach to groups of five or less, and we will continue to limit any congregating on the boardwalks."
People heading to the beaches will have to keep a distance of six feet from others, with Cocoa Beach's beach parking, beach access parking and the downtown parking garage remaining closed. Other beaches in the state, including those in Indialantic and Melbourne Beach, will remain open with restrictions, including limiting beach activities to walking, jogging, biking, fishing, surfing and swimming.