Gov. McMaster orders public access to all beaches closed in SC

State - Regional

COLUMBIA, SC (WBTW) – South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster today issued an executive order to close all public access points to the state’s beaches.

That includes closure of all public boat ramps, landings and other access points on the state’s lakes, rivers and waterways.

“As a result of behavior observed this past weekend by the Department of Natural Resources and SLED, it has become necessary to close public access to our state’s beaches, and to close boat ramps and landings on our state’s lakes, rivers and waterways,” said Gov. Henry McMaster.

“This is unfortunate for those who chose to responsibly follow the instructions of our public health officials, but it is a necessary action to prevent the spread of this dangerous virus.”

The governor’s executive order authorizes and instructs the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), in consultation with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the Attorney General’s office, to provide any necessary supplemental guidance.

“This Section does not apply to individuals possessing a current, valid commercial fishing license or permit to the extent such individuals may seek to utilize or rely upon public piers, docks, wharfs, boat ramps, or boat landings in connection with commercial fishing activities,” the governor’s order reads.

The order does not impact the rights of private property owners living on beaches, lakes, rivers, or waterways in any way. They must still follow the governor’s other order, which bans gatherings of three or more people.

Violating the order would be a misdemeanor offense. The punishment is either a fine up to $100 or a maximum of 30 days in jail.

People enjoying the Myrtle Beach oceanfront for the last time Monday night say they hope people follow the order so the beach can re-open.

“If you’re coming and being in groups of 20-30 people, that’s pretty stupid,” said city resident Austin Potter.” You might not know who has it.”

“It’s killing us economically, but if you’re like me, I’m born and raised here in Myrtle Beach, and you hate to see it,” said city resident Ronald Wright. “If people just do as they’re asked, it is a serious situation.”

TOWNS/CITIES REACT

News13 has reached out to several other law enforcement agencies along the coast, asking questions about enforcement and what else the new order could mean for visitors and locals.

Cpl. Tom Vest with the Myrtle Beach Police Department says the department plans to provide information on enforcement Tuesday morning. Pat Dowling, the spokesperson for the city of North Myrtle Beach, said staff will meet with the city manager on Tuesday to finalize plans for enforcement moving forward.

Pawleys Island police posted on social media Monday night, warning the public about avoiding barriers or police lines:

Count on News13 for updates as we receive them.

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