Lowcountry leaders taking safety measures, prepared for busy weekend at beaches

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FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCBD) – Crowds are expected on Lowcountry beaches over the weekend for the 4th of July. Leaders are finding ways to make sure social distancing still happens this Independence Day weekend.

Large crowds of people took to Folly Beach on Friday, traffic getting on to the island was heavily backed up for large portions of the day. Of course the 4th of July holiday will look very different this year, no firework celebrations along with an emphasis on safety measures according to local officials.

“I feel safe, just about everywhere we’ve been in they’re like you have to have a mask on,” says tourist Alyssa Ratliff.

A mask mandate and other safety measures are currently in effect both inside and out for all public spaces on Folly Beach. Alyssa Ratliff, vacationing on Folly, says so far her trip to Folly Beach has kept her six feet apart from other people around her.

“Everything seemed to be pretty distanced, of course we had to keep our mask on until we ate food and it was good,” says Ratliff.

And while 4th of July celebrations will be very different this year, Folly Beach Chief of Police Andrew Gilreath says his department is prepared for an influx of visitors.

“We’ll have extra people on both the day and night shiftas to help keep an extra set of eyes and ears out there and you know answer the calls when they come in,” says Chief Gilreath.

COVID-19 cases have been on the rise since Memorial Day weekend and leaders are urging the importance of following safety guidelines to prevent further spikes.

“Memorial Day really kind of kicked things off as far as the numbers go,” says Chief Gilreath. “One of the the strategic things that they (Folly Beach City Council) have done here recently is the mask ordinance in public to try to help curb that.”

Beaches remain open but city council passed an additional ordinance on Thursday to limit crowds ahead of what is expected to be a busy weekend. The ordinance will end all live performances on the island at 9pm each night.

“It’s more or less trying to prohibit you know crowd gathering events like live music or trivia night, things of that nature,” says Chief Gilreath.

Leaders and visitors alike, share a similar request for those planning to visit the streets and beaches of Folly Beach over the holiday weekend.

“If you are someone who wants to patronize a shop or restaurants, something of that nature, make sure your mask is up and you’re being responsible,” says Chief Gilreath.

“Wear your mask, keep your hands washed, that’s about all I have to recommend,” says Ratliff. “Keep your distance too.”

If your holiday weekend plans involve packing up and heading to the beach, officials are urging checking traffic cameras on the SC-511 app before heading out the door along with practicing social distancing at all times.

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