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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.


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.)


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.


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 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.

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