Tri-County leaders urge caution in beach communities ahead of Memorial Day weekend

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – On Tuesday, leaders from Charleston County, the Isle of Palms (IOP), Sullivan’s Island, Folly Beach, North Charleston, Berkeley County, Dorchester County, and Goose Creek issued statements urging residents not to overwhelm beaches on Memorial Day weekend.

The leaders referenced last weekend as a “snapshot of concerns” for the area: “beaches were packed and traffic was at a standstill,” said Charleston County Chairman, Elliott Summey, “social distance or stay home so we can continue to reopen the tri-county.”

Isle of Palms was particularly slammed, with the IOP Police taking to social media in the early afternoon to announce that all parking on the island was full, and traffic was backed up to Mount Pleasant. IOP Mayor Jimmy Carroll said that he expects “a busier than normal Memorial Day weekend and we need your help to ensure we do not overwhelm our limited public safety resources.” Even with first responder assistance from surrounding counties, enforcing social distancing and parking guidelines has been a challenge. Mayor Carroll suggested that visitors plan to come on a weekday rather than a weekend, check the tides (as low tide offers more beach space for social distancing), and respect all signage and parking rules.

Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin cautioned visitors not to “let this Memorial Day weekend lead to your memorial!” He wants people to “have a safe and healthy weekend” by following all of the rules put in place by officials.

Sullivan’s Island is the only Lowcountry beach with the “exercise only” order still in effect. Mayor Pay O’Neil said that he understands “many thousands of people in the Lowcountry have been looking forward to some time at the beach…..but the beach will be here all summer.”

Berkeley County Supervisor Johnny Cribb asked residents to “celebrate responsibly and not forget what we’ve learned over these past few months.” North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey wrapped things up nicely, saying “a safe and proper reopening is the responsibility of everyone, so let’s get it right the first time.”

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