In the aftermath of another brutal week of data from South Carolina’s tourism industry, governor Henry McMaster is being urged by coastal leaders to reopen the Palmetto State’s beaches amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, one coastal lawmaker is not proposing McMaster allow beach access to tourists – just locals looking to de-stress, exercise or feed their families.
In a letter sent to McMaster on Friday, state representative Alan Clemmons – who is facing a credible primary opponent this spring – did some politicking under the auspices of his official position as chairman of the S.C. House of Representatives’ rules committee.
Clemmons wrote to McMaster on his committee letterhead, urging the state’s chief executive to expand on his recent decision to reopen boat ramps in the state by reopening public access to beaches.
“As we recently discussed, use of our beaches by coastal residents varies dramatically from that of our out-of-area visitors,” Clemmons wrote in his letter to McMaster. “While many tourists love our beaches as a place to gather and lounge in the sun, our local citizens, for the most part, see use of our beaches in a much different way.”
Specifically, Clemmons said local residents preferred to “stroll the beach to center ourselves and to clear our minds,” to get “needed exercise” or to “fish and crab to put food on the table.”
Here is his letter …
(Click to view)
“Restoring public access to our beaches for the use of coastal residents, with prudent temporary measures that ensure social distancing, would be an excellent next step in empowering coastal citizens to rebuild our communities that have been devastated by (coronavirus) closures,” Clemmons wrote.
Dispensing with Clemmons’ shamelessly overt political grandstanding (less than eight weeks before he faces voters at the polls), we have no issue with his request.
McMaster should grant it, in our view …
In fact, in issuing his statewide “home-or-work” order earlier this month, the governor explicitly authorized “outdoor recreating.” We wonder … what better place is there to “recreate outdoors” than on the beach?
In South Carolina and across the nation, a battle is raging between those who want to maintain draconian lockdown orders (the #StayAtHome crowd) and those who want these orders lifted (#ReopenSC or #ReopenUSA). Most of those who support the extension of these orders are fearful their relaxation – or rescinding – will cause a spike in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Meanwhile, those who support lifting them are mostly concerned with the cascading economic fallout from the ongoing shutdown – arguing in essence that the “cure is worse than the disease.”
Of course they have a compelling medical case, too …
Our view? We believe the virus remains an unknown entity … making informed decisions difficult and consensus all-but-impossible (especially now that the conversation has become politicized). Based on what we have seen so far, though, we continue to feel there is merit to the “cure is worse than the disease” narrative … particularly in light of the looming second wave of the virus.
UPDATE: McMaster is obliging …
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