Certain restrictions remain as Ga. beaches reopen

Certain restrictions remain as Ga. beaches reopen

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has issued an order that extends a few beach restrictions.

The order is in place through May 6. DNR Sgt. Mark Carson offered some clarity on Friday, stating people can swim, build sandcastles, lay out on towels. But they are still checking to make sure people do not bring chairs, tents, umbrellas and coolers.

Social distancing guidelines are also in effect on the beach.

DNR game wardens will continue to actively patrol the beaches as they have been doing over the past month.

On Tybee Island, lifeguard season will not begin until May 22.

Our Lifeguard Season will start May 22nd, prior to that our Fire department will be patrolling the Beach from...

Posted by Tybee Lifeguards on Friday, May 1, 2020

"Tybee Police will have extra officers on the beach and extra officers on patrol,” Tybee City Manager Shawn Gillen said.

The city is expecting a big crowd this weekend.

"People, I think, are looking for a sense of normalcy again,” beachgoer Steve Stewart said.

Even though many things are reopened, there are still some exceptions. One of them being that only a section of the south end parking lot is open while the North Beach parking lot is still closed.

"We're asking people, don't move barricades out of the way. We'll open up the parking lots when we're ready to deal with that level of parking,” Gillen said. "We're going to enforce our local ordinances here. The DNR is here to enforce the coolers and umbrellas and social distancing."

Gilllen said he wants it to be clear to people that they will be cracking down on the rules. He also says the DNR won't be enforcing the city's rules and vice versa.

"If you bring your dog on the beach, you're going to get a ticket. If you bring glass on the beach, you're going to get a ticket,” Gillen said. Both have been rules on Tybee Island pre-pandemic.

The pier will remain closed until the county decides to reopen it. The fishing pier on the Back River is also closed.

All the crossovers are reopened except for the one on 14th street and the one by the new Marine Science Center.

"It's good to see people out and getting back to regular day life. Just trying to be normal and enjoy these great locations and the beach,” Stewart said.

The smoking ban on the beach between 14th and 16th streets also went into effect Friday. Gillen said they're giving people some leniency this weekend.

"We'll have some signage out there. We'll just be letting people know about it, moving people out of the area if they want to smoke. That sort of thing,” he said.

Additional closures and openings will be determined over the next few weeks.

"We will make changes for next weekend based on what we learn this weekend,” Gillen said.

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