NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Despite some governments across the Southeast deciding to close beaches in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, South Carolina has not decided to do that.
Alabama’s governor, along with several cities and counties in Florida, are closing off their beaches. While that’s not the case in Palmetto State, for now, people going to the beach have some other things to keep in mind beyond just sunscreen.
Many people online have criticized thousands of spring breakers partying on beaches in Florida, but you wouldn’t find that type of scene on our part of the coast. Thursday was a somewhat quieter day in North Myrtle.
There were plenty of people outside for a warm March afternoon, but in small groups to try and safely enjoy some time outdoors.
“Social distancing, no high-fives,” said Lauren Botti, who lives near the city. “We’re air-fiving.”
Ocean Drive is quieter, with several restaurants and famous shag dancing halls closed. Some restaurant owners still open, but only offering takeout, say they’re worried about how a weak tourism season could hurt their businesses if the outbreak gets worse here.
At a news conference Thursday, Gov. Henry McMaster didn’t say he was closing South Carolina’s beaches but hasn’t ruled it out.
“Nothing is off the table,” he said. “We don’t want to go too far too soon, but we’re intent on staying ahead of this virus. Anything we know that will work, we’re trying to do it sooner, not later.
In the meantime, people on the beach have their own tips, while trying to safely enjoy the sun, sand, and ocean for now.
“I always carry around my little hand sanitizers,” Botti said. “I’m actually running low. I should get more, but they don’t have hand sanitizer in the bathroom, so that’s a little concerning. Maybe they should put a hand sanitizer on the wall by the bathroom.”
The coronavirus outbreak could also hurt the Grand Strand’s hotel industry too. A study from Oxford Economics says 14,993 South Carolinians working in hotels could lose their jobs due to a decline in travel.
The study also estimates 52,795 total jobs in South Carolina could be lost during the pandemic.