Beaufort County Council passes emergency ordinance in response to COVID-19

Local News

BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) – Beaufort County Council unanimously passed an ordinance declaring a public health emergency related to COVID-19.

As of Monday, three cases of the new virus have been reported in the county.

County administrator Ashley Jacobs can now put an emergency plan in place to divert money and resources to provide support and emergency services.

It will also allow the council to suspend any non-emergency activities or large gatherings in the county and even set up evacuation routes if necessary.

“This is just establishing that we have a state of emergency so I do have authorization to utilize all the resources necessary to keep the public safe, to keep our employees safe,” Jacobs said. “Also in the event that we have a state of disaster nationally or on a state level, we would have access to funding for reimbursement.”

The emergency ordinance is in SC Code 4-9-130 which states:

To meet public emergencies affecting life, health, safety or the property of the people, council may adopt emergency ordinances; but such ordinances shall not levy taxes, grant, renew or extend a franchise or impose or change a service rate. Every emergency ordinance shall be designated as such and shall contain a declaration that an emergency exists and describe the emergency. Every emergency ordinance shall be enacted by the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of the members of council present. An emergency ordinance is effective immediately upon its enactment without regard to any reading, public hearing, publication requirements, or public notice requirements. Emergency ordinances shall expire automatically as of the sixty-first day following the date of enactment.

The county declaration will remain in effect until May 15 or until emergency conditions have subsided.

Bluffton, Hardeeville and Hilton Head Island have also approved their own state of emergency declarations.

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