MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The city is preparing for the reopening of many non-essential retail businesses after Gov. Henry McMaster canceled an emergency order Monday.
The city says its beaches will stay closed for now. Tuesday will be the first full day for some retail businesses to be open since being forced to close about two weeks ago.
Gov. McMaster is among the first governors to try and reopen many parts of a state’s economy during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We want to be able to slingshot around the competition and get back up to full speed as soon as we can,” he said at a news conference in West Columbia on Monday.
In Myrtle Beach, the virus hit at just about the worst time for many businesses. Spring is when millions of people usually start coming to the Grand Strand for the warmer weather.
Mayor Brenda Bethune says the pandemic’s closures have likely caused major damage to the economy.
“It’s going to be astronomical,” she said. “Of course it will be.”
Mayor Bethune says she’s spoken with the governor about reaching the right balance of keeping people healthy and helping businesses survive.
“The worst thing we can do is further jeopardize our peak (tourism) season by prolonging this virus,” she said.
Stores selling items like clothing, furniture and jewelry can open again, but the governor’s relaxing of the rules ignores federal guidelines.
They advise states not to ease restrictions until there’s a two-week downward trend in cases.
“We’re not seeing that yet, so I think that this is something that literally has to be watched every day,” said Mayor Bethune.
The mayor says she thinks that national advice may not apply to some areas of the Southeast. She does admit, however, that she’s concerned there is not enough coronavirus testing in the area.
Mayor Bethune also says there are ways Myrtle Beach and its businesses can work together on the best ways to keep everyone safe and healthy.
“I’m sure that something that we will discuss moving forward is are there other restrictions we want to put in place such as wearing masks when you’re out in public,” she said.
City council is expected to discuss the next steps for the beach and businesses, although a meeting hasn’t been scheduled yet.