BEAUFORT, S.C. – At its special meeting on March 31, held electronically via Zoom for the first time, Beaufort City Council passed a resolution addressing the community spread of COVID-19. The resolution addressed the hospitality industry, outdoor recreation, and businesses. The resolution:
- Urged all businesses and individuals including rental agencies, real estate companies, hotels, motels and individuals who rent through any online or other agency, to voluntarily stop taking reservations through and to refrain from advertising in or targeting any promotional materials to areas hard hit by COVID-19 through April 30.
- Urged limiting outdoor recreation to activities that do not involve travel by automobile and avoid areas where groups of people congregate. The council encouraged activities such as walking and bicycle riding on pathways, streets and open areas that can be accessed from a family’s residence.
- Urged all businesses to follow all the guidelines, mandates, and emergency resolutions set forward by the federal, state, county and local government to properly combat COVID-19. If a business is unable to comply and where the practice of social distancing is impractical, they should consider voluntarily closing through April 30.
City Manager Bill Prokop noted that although many in the community were following stay-at-home and social distancing guidelines, there are still “those who have not taken this virus as a serious medical issue.” He said that City parks would be closed if social distancing was not followed. “We will do what needs to be done to protect our citizens,” he said. As of April 1, playgrounds at City parks are closed per Gov. Henry McMaster’s executive order on March 31 closing non-essential businesses, entertainment venues, and recreational and fitness facilities, among others.
The meeting was streamed live via Facebook, and public comment was taken via Facebook. Some concern was expressed by council members and the public on social distancing in grocery and big-box stores. Council members talked about the measures they have seen in some stores, from plexiglass barriers being installed at registers to tape on floors marking six feet distances. Councilwoman Nan Sutton said that area stores might need a little more time to institute new distancing features.
Councilman Stephen Murray said that it was also up to individuals to ask others to comply with social distancing guidelines, and not simply up to government.
“Doctors can treat patients. It takes everyone in the community to stop the spread,” said Mayor Billy Keyserling. “Our tone is going to be more instructive, to help them do it right.”
“If we take personal responsibility, I think we can get through this,” he said.
City Council and the city manager expressed thanks to first responders, including police officers and firefighters, as well as all the staff at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.
Council meeting can be found here.