Restrictions on Individuals Entering the Town from Areas with Substantial Community Spread
In an effort to minimize contact with individuals entering the town from areas with substantial community spread of Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), Mayor John Gregg issued Executive Order 2020-02 on Monday, March 30, 2020. Consistent with an order issued by Governor Henry McMaster on March 28th, the Mayor’s Executive Order requires individuals entering the town who have traveled to or from locations in the States of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and the City of New Orleans, as well as a those countries designated by the CDC as subject to a “Level 3 Travel Notice,” must isolate or self-quarantine for 14 days, or for the duration of the individual’s stay in the town (whichever is longer). This order was effective immediately and applies to ALL individuals entering the town including, but not limited to: full- and part-time residents; property owners; family members and guests of residents and property owners; short-term rental guests; employees; and contractors. The Order also requires that property owners/managers communicate notice of these requirements to individuals coming to Seabrook Island from any of the above-referenced locations. The Order will remain in effect for the duration of the State of Emergency. More Information: View Executive Order 2020-02 | Isolation vs. Quarantine (SCDHEC)
Limitations on Local Authority
The Town of Seabrook Island has received many calls and emails over the last week requesting that access to the island be limited or otherwise restricted. Consistent with the town’s Comprehensive Emergency Plan, the town has followed the orders imposed by the Governor’s Office, as well as recommendations issued by experts from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).
We are aware that several neighboring communities, including Edisto Beach, Folly Beach, Isle of Palms and Sullivans Island, have established police checkpoints to limit access to their communities and, further, have imposed restrictions on certain business activities. On March 27th, the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office issued an advisory opinion which stated, in part: “[L]ocal government cannot exercise the emergency powers delegated to the Governor by the General Assembly… The Governor… as the Chief Executive of the State, is responsible for the safety, security and welfare of the State… Therefore, counties and municipalities should be aware that any unauthorized exercise of such emergency powers could subject these political subdivisions to liability at the behest of a private citizen with requisite legal standing.”
Unlike those jurisdictions referenced above, the Town of Seabrook Island does not have a municipal police department to enforce such an order. Mayor John Gregg reached out to the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) to determine whether CCSO deputies would assist the town by staffing a municipal checkpoint, if the Mayor and Council were to decide at some point in the future to restrict access to the town. On March 30th, the town received a response from the CCSO which stated, in part: “After conferring with Sheriff Cannon and County Legal, the Sheriff’s Office will not enforce restricted access initiatives unless the Governor has declared Martial Law… [T]he Sheriff is concerned with ensuring Constitutional rights are not infringed during this challenging and constantly evolving event. The Sheriff’s Office has, and continues to assist beach communities upon request; however, the deputies that are working these areas are responding to calls for service or assisting with traffic control that is not related to access of the community being served.”
Based on these limitations, and because the town does not control access through the SIPOA security gate, the town does not have a viable way to limit or restrict access to the island. At this time, the Mayor and Council remain in constant contact with the Town Attorney and various state and local partners to identify methods to best protect residents of the town. More Information: View SCAG Advisory Opinion | View Correspondence from CCSO
Pre-Screening of 911 Calls
In order to safeguard the health and safety of law enforcement authorities and other first responders who risk potential exposure to COVID-19 while providing emergency and other essential services during the State of Emergency, Governor McMaster has ordered all 911 operators or other emergency dispatchers to ask any individual placing a call for service whether such individual or any member of their household has tested positive for COVID-19 or is exhibiting symptoms consistent with the same.
Extension of School Closures
On March 28th, Governor McMaster ordered that all public K-12 schools, as well as state-supported colleges, universities and technical schools, shall remained closed until April 30th. Parents of children who attend private schools should contact those schools directly for additional information.
Seabrook Island Town Hall Closed
As a reminder, Town Hall remains closed and members of town staff are working remotely to provide “virtual services” to residents and business owners. For assistance during normal operating hours (Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm), please contact us by phone at (843) 768-9121 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The town’s code enforcement officers will remain active on the island as long as it is safe for them to do so. All public meetings have been cancelled through April 30th, with the exception of emergency meetings.
Protect Yourself and Others
To minimize the risk of exposure and to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends that individuals take the following precautions:
- Hand Hygiene: Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, use hand sanitizer, avoid of touching your face and mouth, and avoid shaking hands with others.
- Social Distancing: Maintain at least six feet of separation between yourself and others.
- Travel: Avoid unnecessary travel, especially to areas of high concentrations of cases of infection.
- Limit Contact with the Sick and Elderly: Cease visits to nursing homes and other extended care facilities, except in the case of end-of-life circumstances.
For general questions about COVID-19, please contact the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) Care Line at (855) 472-3432. Staff will be available to answer calls from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm seven days a week.
For the most reliable information about COVID-19, including what to do if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms, residents are strongly encouraged to visit official resources, including the SCDHEC and CDC websites.
Official updates from the Town of Seabrook Island will continue to be posted on the following channels:
- Town Website (www.townofseabrookisland.org)
- Town TWITTER feed (www.twitter.com/seabrookislnd87)
- Town FACEBOOK page (www.facebook.com/townofseabrookisland)
Property Owners with rental guests should forward this notice to their rental guests.
-Submitted by Joseph M. Cronin, Town Administrator, Town of Seabrook Island.