HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WTOC) - As South Carolina continues to reopen, the town of Hilton Head is lifting more beach restrictions beginning Friday, May 15.
Nearly two months after Hilton Head Island’s beaches closed, the reopening process is still underway. The restrictions are handled at the town level, and as of Friday, the general public, including non-residents will have access to more public beaches and parks. That includes Islanders Beach Park, Coligny Beach Park, Adler Lane Beach Access, Fish Haul Beach Park, and Folly Field Park.
“Yes, we are opening these areas, but we’re still wanting to kind of control the crowds and the number of people that may come here,” said Josh Gruber, the Hilton Head Assistant Town Manager.
Another restriction that will be lifted on Friday are the parking barriers. 225 of the 450 free beach parking spots at Coligny will be open for the public.
Jarvis Creek Park and Crossings Park have reopened, but Friday the lawn portion of Shelter Cove Community Park, along with Barker Field, and the Rowing and Sailing Center at Squire Pope Community Park will open with bathrooms and parking, but playground equipment and tables are off-limits, and no team-sport gatherings are allowed.
As they continue to open, the town expects tourism to ramp back up.
“We can see that those numbers are picking up," Gruber said. "Now, they’re nowhere near where they typically are during this time of year, but they’re also not as low as what they were several weeks ago.”
A few beaches, including Drissen Beach Park, and Islanders Beach Park, will still restricted to Hilton Head Island residents and property owners with beach parking passes only.
All of these decisions are being made on a weekly basis by the town council.
"It’s very much a week-by-week reassessment of how has it gone, what we’ve put in place, that way if we do see that there’s an issue that begins to arise, we have the ability to respond to it fairly quickly,”Gruber added.
He also said that the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office will continue to patrol the beaches to avoid large groups gathering, but so far, it’s mostly been incident-free.
On Friday May 22, the town will resume charging for metered spaces at all beach parks where there are parking meters, and end special allowances for holders of beach parking passes to park only at certain beaches. Even after the current restrictions are lifted, holders of beach parking passes may park at any town beach access park, even in metered spaces.