ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCBD) – Spring break and warmer weather means larger crowds and an early start to the beach season across the Lowcountry. Isle of Palms officials say safety measures remain top of mind as more people hit the beach.
Heavy traffic on beach routes and large crowds staking their claim to sand and returning to Lowcountry beaches. Law Enforcement officials say it’s important to continue wearing a mask, practice social distancing, and stay vigilant as crowd sizes grow.
For some beach goers, being able to hit the beach is something they’ve been waiting for.
“Being on the beach is perfect,” says Danielle visiting with a friend from Chicago.
One year after some beaches were closed for months, many like Danielle and her friend Brian are once again setting up beach chairs and soaking up some sun.
“But with COVID-19, I definitely feel safe with everything,” says Danielle. “I mean people wear masks when they’re up in the bars and stuff but out on the beach it’s free game and I think it should be like that.”
Many beachgoers believe safety measures should be a personal preference as more people receive their COVID-19 vaccine.
“I think as people start to get vaccinated it will be a lot easier for people to go out so maybe if they’re not comfortable than just wait,” says Kristen, also visiting from out of town.
Isle of Palms Police Chief Kevin Cornett says his department is stepping up patrols to keep people socially distanced and safe.
“We do have crowds coming to the beach so we have personnel that will be patrolling the beaches throughout the rest of the week,” says Chief Cornett.
The focus for Isle of Palms police remains education when it comes to COVID-19 guidelines. They say masks are still required indoors and where social distancing isn’t possible. Chief Cornett says there’s plenty of room to keep everyone safe.
“Just because you park there doesn’t mean you have to take a spot right there when there are other people there,” says Chief Cornett. “Spread out along the beach, there’s seven miles of beach that people can use.”
For many, crowded beaches serve as a sign of what could come this summer beach season. While COVID-19 hasn’t left yet, beach goers say they’re happy to be back.
“It’s been a long time,” says Danielle. “I don’t know if I can handle another year of this but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” says Brian.
Several Tri-County school districts including the Charleston County School District, Berkeley County School District and Dorchester District Two are all on spring break this week.