HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WTOC) - Hilton Head Island public beaches will be closed starting Saturday, March 21 due to concern over the spread of COVID-19.
There were plenty of beach-goers Friday at Coligny on Hilton Head Island, but it could be the last beach day for some time.
The move comes after Tybee Island did the same thing. Mayor of Hilton Head, John McCann said he didn’t want people flocking to Hilton Head after other beaches have closed.
“Not to have the next wave of people come here that can’t go somewhere else. I’m looking to say that if you can’t go to Tybee, you can’t go here. This is not the last resort along the way where you can go to our beaches, O.K.? The Hilton Head beaches are closed.”
This includes all the parking areas and bathrooms at public beaches.
McCann also authorized an emergency ordinance that will allow cars parked at the public beach parking to be towed.
Violators could be cited.
Some were disappointed with the announcement.
“I’m very sad that it’s come to this," said HHI resident Teresa Justice. "I feel like that is a place that we should all be able to at least get away and breathe with everything going on.”
One couple came from Texas, just wanting to visit any beach.
“The beaches were closed because of the virus. Yeah, so this was the only one that was open," said Kevin and Joanna.
Another visiting couple said they were disappointed, but felt comfortable enough to travel from Delaware.
”We’re following the normal rules of social distancing, washing hands, being careful, takeout food," said Jack Hearn. "Everything that you should do. I’m comfortable with that.”
The tolls on the Cross Island Parkway are now also suspended, and effective Monday, March 23, all of the Town of Hilton Head’s buildings will be closed to the public. You can still reach them online and over the phone.
The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office will be patrolling the beaches, and the town leaders said at some point, signs letting people know about the closing will be up soon.
Hilton Head Island Mayor John McCann made the announcement on Friday afternoon. The new rule will go into effect on Saturday morning.
The beaches will remain closed for 60 days. The public will be notified of any changes to that time frame.
“I went to the beach last night for the first time in a long time, and I went to the beach again this morning. It was a very difficult decision. The beach is part of our life and part of my life. It’s something we have to do for the safety and health of our community," said Mayor John McCann.
Other beaches in South Carolina may remain open, but the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has been ordered to break up crowds that may be gathered there, according to Governor Henry McMaster. He tweeted Friday afternoon asking coastal residents to keep a responsible distance away from other people.