CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg is proposing a citywide ‘stay at home’ order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
During a press conference Tuesday afternoon in Washington Square, Mayor Tecklenburg announced his reasoning behind the order saying, “yesterday’s announcement that the COVID-19 pandemic has officially reached the acceleration phase in our state, we must now take even more dramatic action.”
He said there is still time to save thousands of lives in Charleston by flattening the curve.
“For the past several weeks, governments and residents across our state have been working to slow the onset of the coronavirus pandemic here in South Carolina,” he said. “Schools and city public buildings have been closed. Bars and restaurants have stopped serving onsite. Large gatherings have been banned, and citizens have been urged to stay home, stay distanced and stay smart.”
Governor Henry McMaster has issued an order limiting public gatherings to three people or less. Still, Mayor Tecklenburg says we’re still seeing large gatherings in public spaces and ordered the temporary closure of all city parks and playgrounds.
Mayor Tecklenburg said he will introduce the citywide stay at home ordinance for emergency action by City Council Tuesday night.
“Put simply, this ordinance would require the closure of non-essential businesses here in the city of Charleston, and direct our citizens to stay at home, except for necessary trips to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or for other essential services and activities,” he said. “This action would last for a period of 14 days, and would be taken under the city’s broad emergency authority to protect public health and safety during times of emergency.”
He said DHEC has officially told us that the coronavirus pandemic is in the acceleration phase in our state. This means that there is significant community spread, and that we’ve “entered the period of maximum danger for our citizens, with infection rates and deaths due to this disease set to rise exponentially.”
“Three of the four largest cities in our state sit side-by-side here in the Lowcountry, with a total population in the hundreds of thousands. We cannot and must not allow this deadly, highly contagious disease to spread uncontrolled among our residents,” he said.
Mayor Tecklenburg said the days ahead may be long, and they may call for a level of service to others that’s uncommon in our age. “But if a lifetime in Charleston has taught me anything, it is this: There is no challenge that we cannot face together. There is no trial that can break our faith. There is no pathogen that can lessen our love for our families, our friends, or our fellow Charlestonians.”
If approved, the stay at home order would go into effect at midnight Thursday and would last for two weeks. If council rejects the proposal, Mayor Tecklenburg says he will issue an executive order.
“We can and will bend the curve on this disease in our community. And we will do it the way we do everything here in Charleston: We’ll do it together.”
Officials with the Town of Mount Pleasant say Mayor Will Haynie and city council are considering a similar ordinance because so many people who live and work in Charleston and Mount Pleasant travel back and forth.
The City of North Charleston said they plan on adhering to the Gov. McMaster’s executive order regarding groups of three or more, but said a stay at home order would have to come from the Governor.
Following Mayor Tecklenburg’s press conference Tuesday afternoon, Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey released a statement saying the county does not have any immediate plans to follow the city’s stay at home order.
In a statement, Summey said:
“I acknowledge the City of Charleston and Town of Mount Pleasant’s actions to close non-essential businesses within the respective jurisdictions; however, Charleston County does not have any immediate plans to follow course in the unincorporated areas of the County. The Governor, through Executive Order, has not allowed such action. Therefore, the County will continue to follow the State’s mandates in response to the coronavirus / COVID 19 pandemic. I respect Governor McMaster’s leadership, especially since he has led this state through several emergencies during the last few years.
Charleston County has endeavored to facilitate open communications and dialogue with our municipal partners on a daily basis for the last several weeks to coordinate uniform ordinances that affect our citizenry as whole, and I ask that our partners continue to coordinate with the County as best we can for the greater good of our citizens during this time. ”