South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has taken big steps to open the state up before Memorial Day weekend, when tourists flock to the coast.
In late April, he cancelled his previous order that closed public access points to beaches across the state in the COVID-19 pandemic.
And one by one, beaches have begun to re-open.
Tourist attractions in South Carolina re-opened Friday, while restaurants have been allowed to open for indoor and outdoor dining at 50 percent capacity.
While most South Carolina beach town officials have voted to re-open beaches this month, things aren’t quite back to normal just yet.
Even though some beaches are still open, officials strongly encourage everyone visiting the beaches to practice social distancing.
Here is a list of laws — COVID and non-COVID related — to know if you plan on heading to the SC coast this weekend
Myrtle Beach leaders re-opened all public beach accesses and parking lots on April 28.
“Beachgoers must abide by strict social distancing practices. The beach will be policed to enforce these safety measures,” the Myrtle Beach City Government’s website said.
Myrtle Beach city officials voted Friday to make Memorial Day an “extraordinary event” — meaning they can take extra measures “for the preservation of public health, safety and welfare,” WMBF News reported. If you plan on driving this weekend, be sure to check out the city’s three-part traffic congestion plan.
Other Myrtle Beach laws to know:
- Tents, cabanas, umbrellas over 7 feet are banned from the beach year-round.
- Thong bathing suits are illegal for anyone (Myrtlebeach.com specifically states “Swimwear is subject to city ordinances in Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, and Surfside Beach).
- Possessing/ consuming alcohol is illegal on the beach.
- No Fireworks, littering, driving on the beach.
- No dogs on the beach from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 1- Labor Day.
- No sleeping on the beach between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.
- It’s illegal to destroy sea oats.
North Myrtle Beach
North Myrtle Beach reopened public beaches on April 21.
“Social distancing is required and groups of three or more will be dispersed,” according to the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Other North Myrtle Beach laws to know:
- Tents, cabanas, and umbrellas > 9 feet in diameter are banned between May 15-Sept. 15.
- Alcohol, glass, and fireworks are illegal.
- If you dig a hole on the beach, you must fill it in.
- No dogs allowed on the beach from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 15- Sept. 15.
- Littering is illegal.
All 36 beach access points at Surfside beaches are open to the public, while town leaders strongly encourage social distancing.
Other Surfside Beach laws to know:
- No alcoholic beverages on the beach
- No shading device on the beach bigger than 10 feet by 10 feet
- Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach between May 15 and Sept 15
- You can’t dig a hole deeper than 2 feet deep.
- Shark fishing is illegal
- To report lost children, contact the Surfside Beach Police Department at (843) 913-6368.
- Surfers must wear surfing leashes at all times.
- No Smoking.
Georgetown County Council voted to open public access to Georgetown County (including Litchfield) and Pawleys Island Beaches on Friday, May 1.
“The Pawleys Island Police Department will be actively patrolling the beach to ensure all beach goers adhere to the current social distancing guidelines,” a town news release said.
Beach rules/ laws to know:
- It appears to be legal to drink alcohol on the beaches (no glass though).
- If you dig a hole on the beach, you must fill it in.
- All dogs must be on a leash from May 1 – Sept 30 (8 am – 8 pm).
- No lifeguards on duty, so swim at your own risk
- No fireworks or camping overnight.
Huntington Beach State Park
Huntington Beach State Park reopened on May 1. Here are a few COVID-19 related notes from the South Carolina Parks website:
- All visitors must follow our social distancing guidelines Please click here for that information.
- State parks are experiencing increased park visitation during this time and parks may reach normal capacities and close for a period of time. This is not unusual during popular times of the year, especially on weekends.
- Park admission can be purchased online to limit contact with park staff. Please purchase the same day you plan on visiting. Present receipt at the park gate for entry. If you purchase in advance, you are not guaranteed entry.
- Also, please note, if you are a park passport holder, this does not guarantee you entry to any park if that park is full and gates are closed.
- State parks also plan to honor any existing camping and cabin reservations that were scheduled to check in on Friday, May 1, forward. State parks have begun taking new reservations for stays that begin May 11 forward, and all park accommodations will come back on line as staffing levels return to normal.
- Please advise: At this time, large gatherings are not permitted in cabins/villas or campgrounds, based on restrictions recommended by the CDC and SCDHEC. Please limit cabin/villa and campground guests to those staying overnight until grouping restrictions and park capacities are lifted.
Other Huntington Beach State Park laws to know:
- Dogs are allowed only on the South part end of the beach. Dogs are prohibited in buildings, including Atalaya, and on the north end of the beach.
- Surf fishing is allowed but a South Carolina Salt Water Fishing License is required.
- Possession of firearms is illegal (with the exception of certified park rangers and other authorized personnel).
As of Thursday, May 21, South Carolina had reported 9,379 COVID-19 cases and 85 percent of those patients have recovered from COVID-19, according to SCDHEC. Horry County has had 333 total reported cases, while Georgetown County has had 53 total cases.
FITSNEWS wishes you and your family a safe and socially distant Memorial Day Weekend.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR..
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to address proactively? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.
SIGN UP …