SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, national, state and local leaders are taking emergency action to slow or prevent the spread of the virus.
In recent days, President Donald Trump, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp have each issued various public health emergency orders.
Public schools, colleges and universities in Georgia and South Carolina have moved to online learning in the wake of the outbreak. On Monday, McMaster took emergency action prohibiting groups larger than three and Kemp issued a measure for the “medically fragile” to quarantine.
At this time in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry, there are no curfews or shelter-in-place orders.
But what does a state of emergency mean at the local level? In most cases, the following applies:
- All bars and nightclubs, which do not serve food, close
- All gyms and fitness centers, movie theaters, live performance venues, bowling alleys and arcades close
- Restaurants and other eating/drinking establishments where food is served must reduce seating capacity by 50% for dine-in services; delivery, drive-thru, take-out available
*Not applicable to cafeterias in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice centers and similar facilities
- Funerals consisting of more than 10 mourners encouraged to conduct graveside services only or postpone to a future date
- All sightseeing, guided and/or narrated tours must cease
For many areas, these measures will remain in place for either two weeks or 30 days, unless further action is taken. And in counties, cities and towns that have not issued emergency declarations, many have closed government buildings and community centers.
Below is a running list of emergency orders in place in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry.
The Beaufort County Council unanimously passed an ordinance declaring a public health emergency related to COVID-19 on Monday, March 19. The county declaration will remain in effect until Friday, May 15 or until emergency conditions have subsided. For more on county closings and additional information, visit here.
- Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling on Friday, March, 13 signed a Declaration of Medical Emergency Order for the city. Effective Monday, March 23, all city offices will close to the public; all meetings canceled. Read more here.
- Hilton Head Island Mayor John McCann on Monday, March 16, issued a local town state of emergency; public beaches closed at least 60 days, effective Saturday, March 21. Read more here.
- Yemassee, a town in Beaufort and Hampton counties, on Friday, March 27, declared a local state of emergency. The declaration will remain in place “until emergency conditions associated with COVID-19 have subsided” or 61 days after March 27.
The county declared a local state of emergency, effective Tuesday, March 17 and “in place until further notice.” Visit Jasper County’s website here.
A local state of emergency has been declared in Chatham County. Chairman Al Scott signed the resolution to take effect immediately on Sunday, March 22, until Wednesday, April 22. Read the details here. (Para la versión en español de este artículo, visite aquí.)
- A shelter at home order is in place for Savannah through Wednesday, April 8. Savannah Mayor Van Johnson first declared a local state of emergency on Thursday, March 19. Read more here.
- Garden City issued an emergency declaration, effective at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 22 and amended on Wednesday, March 25. Read more here.
- A shelter at home order is in place for Thunderbolt through Sunday, April 5. Mayor Beth Goette and council members met Saturday, March 21, to discuss a local state of emergency. The town decided to declare an emergency, effective 8 a.m. the same day and later made the amendment.
- Tybee Island Mayor Shirley Sessions took emergency action Friday to close beaches due to COVID-19 concerns. She said the declaration had a unanimous endorsement from the city council. View Tybee’s website here.
There is no county-level emergency order in effect at this time.
- Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter on Monday, March 23, signed a declaration of a public health emergency that will remain in effect for 30 days. Read the full order here.
- Pembroke has put a curfew into effect for “all businesses and individuals not deemed critical” between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Read the details here.
On Saturday, March 14, the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners set aside $100,000 available for emergency purchases “needed strictly for public health purposes.” They followed with a declaration of a local state of emergency on Tuesday, March 17 which will remain in place until Sunday, April 5. Visit the county’s website here.
- Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar issued a state of emergency for the city on Thursday, March 19. Watch McCollar’s full address here.
Effingham County Chairman Wesley Corbitt on Thursday signed a resolution declaring a state of emergency in Effingham County in effect until Thursday, April 30. The county is “recommending a voluntary shelter-in-place for anything other than essential activities or essential work.” Gyms, hair salons, barbershops, nail parlors and similar establishments are encouraged to suspend operations.
- The City of Rincon on Friday, March 27, issued a state of emergency. Read the ordinance here.
The Glynn County Board of Commissioners on Friday, March 20 placed the county under a state of emergency. St. Simons Island beaches, including the pier, closed at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 21, and will remain closed until Monday, April 13; Jekyll Island beaches also closed until further notice. For more information, visit here.
There is no county-level emergency order in effect at this time.
- Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown on Friday, March 20 at 7 p.m., issued a local state of emergency. The measure took effect on Saturday, March 21 and on Monday, March 23, the order was extended to expire on Monday, April 20 rather than Sunday, April 5.
The McIntosh County Board of Commissioners declared a state of emergency on Friday, March 20 and amended it on Monday, March 30. The amendment puts into place a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and extends certain measures for dining services that already took effect. Read the full order here, which will remain in place until Sunday, April 19.
- The City of Darien also amended a local state of emergency, now in effect until Sunday, April 19. View the ordinance here.
The morning of Friday, March 20, the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners declared an emergency. Unless renewed, the state of emergency will end on Tuesday, March 31.