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Coronavirus Advisory

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EMERGENCY RESPONSE:  CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
UPDATED:  10:00 A.M., WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1, 2020

NOTE:  FOR MORE INFORMATION, SEE THE MYRTLE BEACH CITY GOVERNMENT FACEBOOK PAGE.

OVERVIEW

Your health and safety are our top priority!  Senior staff and the emergency management team for the City of Myrtle Beach are meeting via conference calls to assess and update the situation in light of the reported cases of coronavirus in Horry County.  The City of Myrtle Beach initiated OpCon 2 (Operation Conditions 2) on Saturday, March 14, 2020, which elevates our response to a state of emergency for the ongoing coronavirus health threat.  Mayor Brenda Bethune issued the following directive:  “Upon the advice of the State and Horry County, the City of Myrtle Beach hereby declares that we will operate at ‘OpCon 2’ until further notice.”

As of March 27, 2020, city personnel continue daily operations.  City team members practice social distancing and take the necessary health precautions to ensure a clean and safe work environment.  
The City of Myrtle Beach has implemented both a hiring freeze and a spending freeze during this emergency period.  New personnel positions will be filled if deemed critical to the city's operation.  Any new spending is curtailed and must be specifically authorized.   

The city looks to state and federal leadership regarding restrictions and guidance, and we are taking the necessary health precautions to make sure that everyone is safe.  Please continue to practice safe habits and limit contact with others.  Updates to the information below are likely.

INFORMATION LINE

To answer your city-related questions, call 843-918-INFO.  The Information Line is available daily, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., until further notice.  

EMERGENCY ORDER:  ACCOMMODATIONS & ATTRACTIONS

On Thursday, March 26, 2020, the Myrtle Beach City Council approved an Emergency Order to halt all short-term accommodations and amusement attractions in Myrtle Beach.  Revisions were made to the order on Friday, March 27, 2020.  Council's action comes in response to community concerns about the ongoing coronavirus health emergency, with a goal of reducing the chances of transmission from outside areas.   To view the amended order, click here.  The Emergency Order protects the public’s health and welfare by minimizing the spread of the coronavirus, with the goal of returning to normalcy sooner, rather than later.  Here’s a list of frequently asked questions regarding the order….

What type of accommodations are affected by the order?  All short term rentals in the City of Myrtle Beach are affected.  These include:  hotels, condo hotels, motels, public and private campgrounds, time shares, and any rental properties available for 90 days or less, including all accommodations through private management companies and online companies, such as Airbnb and VRBO. 

Effective immediately, accommodations must not accept new reservations or extend any current reservations for the period through April 30, 2020.  Exempted from the registration restrictions are:

  • Travelling medical staff.
  • First responders and other government employees who are engaged in official business.
  • Persons making deliveries of food, medical supplies, medicines, gasoline and other critical supplies.
  • Myrtle Beach residents displaced by a fire, as placed by the American Red Cross or Myrtle Beach Fire Department.
  • Myrtle Beach residents displaced by act or threat of domestic violence, as referred or placed by the Myrtle Beach Police Department.
  • Persons having a valid reservation prior to the effective date of this Order who would otherwise be rendered homeless.

Regarding existing reservations, when will the emergency order take effect?  Existing reservations for the period beginning Saturday, March 28, through Thursday, April 30, 2020, must be cancelled or rescheduled, subject to the exemptions above. 

What about time shares?  Time shares are included in the order.

What qualifies as a “short term rental?”  A short term rental is an accommodation rental of 90 days or less.

What qualifies as a “long term rental?”  A long term rental is an accommodation rental of more than 90 days.

What parties are exempt from this order?  Units consistently occupied on or before March 1, 2020, are exempt from this order.  However, this exemption only applies to the person on the original reservation.   Friends, family and other occupants may not join them, and their stays may not be extended.

When must non-exempt visitors leave?  All visitors who do not meet the above exemption criteria must vacate the property by 12:00 p.m., Sunday, March 29, 2020.

What about someone who lives permanently in a hotel or similar facility?  If that is their permanent local address, they are exempt from the order. 

What types of amusement attractions and related services are affected by the order?  The order closes amusement businesses designed to attract and accommodate visitors, effective Friday, March 27, 2020.  Suspended business activities include, but are not limited to, the following….

  • Movie Theaters
  • Live Performance Theaters
  • Amusement Parks
  • Waterparks
  • Arcades
  • Moped and Golf Cart Rental Operations
  • Mini Golf Courses
  • Golf Courses (although locals’ play is allowed)
  • Beach Chair and Umbrella Rentals
  • Jet Ski, Parasailing and Banana Boat Rentals on the beach
  • Other commercial activity on the beach

When must golf courses close?  Golf courses in the city must close at the end of the day on Friday, March 27.

Is the beach closed?   Public access points and parking lots to all state’s beaches, as well as public boat ramps, landings and other access points on the state's lakes, rivers and waterways are closed, per Governor Henry McMaster's Executive Order 2020-16.

What does this order ask of the businesses that remain open?  Businesses are asked to take the following measures:

  • Abide by all CDC and DHEC recommended sanitation and disinfection procedures, and emphasize such procedures to their employees.
  • Establish safe distancing guidelines for all cashier and payment areas to provide at least six feet between customers.
  • Enforce six foot separation requirements whenever possible in waiting rooms, lobby areas and work stations.
  • Establish special hours for senior citizens whenever possible.
  • Limit in-person business activity and practice social distancing with telephone and electronic transactions when possible.

What does this order ask of the residential community?  It requests our residents to continue to wash and sanitize hands, homes and work surfaces frequently.  Residents are encouraged to practice even more stringent social distancing procedures to ensure their safety as well as the safety of others.  Public health is a shared responsibility!

If a business or person violates the order, what’s the penalty?  Violation of the order is a criminal act (a misdemeanor), subject to a fine of up to $500 and/or 30 days in jail, upon conviction, for each violation.   The Myrtle Beach Police Department is authorized to enforce these Executive Orders during a declared emergency.  In most cases, the Police are directed to seek voluntary compliance, although failure to comply is a violation of city code and a misdemeanor, as noted above.

I live out of town, but own a house or other residential property in Myrtle Beach.  May I visit my house?  Yes, you may visit your second home in Myrtle Beach.

Will the city reimburse me for lost deposits if the property manager or owner refuses to provide a refund or rebook my stay for a later date?  No, although we are encouraging properties to issue refunds or accommodate rebooking requests.  The city has no authority to compel reimbursement.  To contact the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, please call 800-356-3016 or email askus@visitmyrtlebeach.com.

Does the order close any retail businesses other than those types of amusements and retail activities specifically listed?  No. 

NOTE:  Again, the City of Myrtle Beach is not responsible for cancellation policies.  For more information about accommodation cancellations, see the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce's Healthy Travel Information webpage.  

CITY FACILITIES

All indoor city offices and facilities are closed to the public until further notice.  All outdoor playgrounds are closed until further notice.  The Matt Hughes Skate Park, Midway Basketball Court and Pepper Geddings Outdoor Basketball Court are closed.  The Myrtle Beach Police Department is patrolling  to enforce social distancing efforts.

MEETINGS & EVENTS

All city meetings and events scheduled for the coming weeks will be postponed to a later date.  Announcements about meetings and events for subsequent weeks will be provided in a timely manner.

Municipal Court, including the new Quality of Life Court, will be rescheduled to a later date on, or after, May 1, 2020.  The Municipal Court postponements exclude daily bond hearings.  

To see a list of rescheduled events, visit the city's Events webpage.  For a helpful list of links to online e-resources to keep your family busy during this emergency period, see our new E-Resources webpage.

SERVICES & UPDATED PROTOCOLS

Here's a helpful list of city services, with information regarding the city's updated protocols....

Police, Fire & EMS Services
Police, Fire and EMS services continue, and the Police and Fire Departments will respond to emergency events.  Our 911 dispatchers are pre-screening emergency calls to determine whether any respiratory distress is involved.  For non-emergency calls and routine reports, call the Police Department's non-emergency dispatch line at 843-918-1382.  Or, visit the Police Department’s P2C website to report an incident.  Myrtle Beach police officers are still conducting patrols.  The beach wheelchair service and fingerprinting services are both suspended until further notice.

Utility Services
The city’s water system is safe, thanks to the treatment and disinfectant processes.  Water service will continue without interruption.  New water service applications and water service termination requests can be processed via phone or email.  Call 843-918-1212 or email mbutilpay@cityofmyrtlebeach.com for information
.  Or, water service application forms and payment envelopes are also available for pick-up in the vestibule of the City Services Building, 921 North Oak Street.

Utility Payments
Remember, utility payment drop boxes are available at the City Services Building, 921 North Oak Street.  Payments and paperwork deposited into the night drop boxes will be processed after 48 hours.  You also may pay utility bills online.  See the links below for more information.  We will suspend water cutoffs during this emergency period.  Questions?  Call 843-918-1212 or send an email to mbutilpay@cityofmyrtlebeach.com for information.

Solid Waste Collection
Solid waste services will be on their usual schedule this week.

Business Licenses

Business license application forms are available for pick-up in the vestibule of the City Services Building, 921 North Oak Street.  Questions?  Call 843-918-1200 or email buslic@cityofmyrtlebeach.com

Building Permits
The Construction Services Department is issuing building permits via email or fax.  If customers cannot submit new construction plans or plans revisions digitally, the documents can be delivered to the drop box of the Construction Services Building, 921 North Oak Street.  Note that any paperwork, plans, or plan revisions that are dropped off will not be processed or reviewed for at least 48 hours from the time it is dropped off.  City employees continue to perform inspections on all permitted projects.  Questions?  Call 843-918-1111.

Chauffer Permits
New chauffeur permit applications will be processed each Thursday at 10:00 a.m. at the north entrance of the Police Annex, 3340 Mustang Street.  Chauffeur Permits that expire between March 1, 2020, and March 31, 2020, will be extended until April 30, 2020.

Recreation Services
With the closure of recreation centers and rental facilities, the city understands the negative effects on patrons who have financially invested in these services.  In the near future, the city plans to make the appropriate adjustments to those who have paid memberships, league fees and facility rentals to correct this issue.

 

SC GOVERNOR'S EXECUTIVE ORDERS

SC Governor Henry McMaster has issued a number of executive orders related to the coronavirus emergency.  You will find all of the orders online at https://governor.sc.gov/executive-branch/executive-orders.   

On Monday, March 30, the governor issued an order that all public beach accesses and public parking areas adjacent to the beach and other recreational bodies of water be closed.  The City of Myrtle Beach complied by closing those public beach access points, effective Tuesday, March 31.  

On Tuesday, March 31, the governor issued an order requiring that "non-essential" businesses close effect April 1, 2020, for 15 days.  "T
he following “non-essential” businesses, venues, facilities, services, and activities shall be closed to non-employees and shall not be open for access or use by the public—to include members, if access or use is ordinarily restricted to or based on membership—or shall not take place, as applicable:"

1. Entertainment venues and facilities as follows:
     (a) Night clubs
     (b) Bowling alleys
     (c) Arcades
     (d) Concert venues
     (e) Theaters, auditoriums, and performing arts centers
     (f) Tourist attractions (including museums, aquariums, and planetariums)
     (g) Racetracks
     (h) Indoor children’s play areas, with the exception of licensed childcare facilities
     (i) Adult entertainment venues
     (j) Bingo halls
     (k) Venues operated by social clubs

2. Recreational and athletic facilities and activities as follows:
     (a) Fitness and exercise centers and commercial gyms
     (b) Spas and public or commercial swimming pools
     (c) Group exercise facilities, to include yoga, barre, and spin studios or facilities
     (d) Spectator sports
     (e) Sports that involve interaction in close proximity to and within less than six (6) feet of another person
     (f) Activities that require the use of shared sporting apparatus and equipment
     (g) Activities on commercial or public playground equipment

3. Close-contact service providers as follows:
     (a) Barber shops
     (b) Hair salons
     (c) Waxing salons
     (d) Threading salons
     (e) Nail salons and spas
     (f) Body-art facilities and tattoo services
     (g) Tanning salons
     (h) Massage-therapy establishments and massage services.”

Today’s order does not apply to grocery stores, drug stores, pharmacies and other businesses deemed essential. Takeout orders from restaurants and window orders from fast food restaurants will still be allowed. Big box stores which sell groceries and drugs will be allowed to stay open. Banks and gas stations also will be allowed to stay open.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

Public Health organizations encourage everyone to practice “social distancing” to help limit the spread of COVID-19.  Distance yourself from others by six feet, or more.  Avoid public places by ordering take out foods and utilize pick-up grocery services.  Accordingly, City of Myrtle Beach offices will be closed for over-the-counter services until further notice.

On Monday, March 16, 2020, the federal government asks everyone to cancel all in-person gatherings with 10 or more people.  In the news conference, President Trump asked that all Americans, including those who are young and healthy, avoid the following:  gathering in groups of more than 10 people; all non-essential travel; and, eating in bars, restaurants and public food courts.  On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster placed a mandatory order closing dine-in service at bars and restaurants (effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020).  The governor also announced a ban on gatherings of 50 or more individuals.  Subsequently, the governor spoke on March 23, 2020, regarding local jurisdictions' authority to have police enforcement disperse gatherings with three or more individuals (non-family groups) in public places who are not practicing social distancing, including beaches.  This guidance does not supersede the constitutional rights of individuals in such gatherings.  And, on March 24, 2020, the governor announced that schools would reopen on April 30, 2020.  These actions slow the spread of the coronavirus.

FOOD & BEVERAGE SERVICE BUSINESSES

Tuesday, March 17, 2020, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster placed a mandatory order closing dine-in service at bars and restaurants (effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020).  To support local businesses and view a helpful list of restaurants offering curbside pickup, takeout or delivery options, visit the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce's Dining Options webpage.  

SIGNAGE FLEXIBILITY FOR IN-CITY RESTAURANTS

The City of Myrtle Beach is giving restaurants more flexibility for additional signs and tents during the coronavirus emergency.  The governor ordered restaurants to stop “dining in,” but allowed them to provide “take-out” and “to-go” service.  On March 18, 2020, City Manager John Pedersen has signed an order allowing temporary signage and operational rules to help restaurants cope.  Pursuant to provisions of Chapter 8 of the Myrtle Beach Code of Ordinances and the Declaration of Civil Emergency by Mayor Brenda Bethune (March 14, 2020), here are the temporary operational rules and procedures for restaurants, effective immediately. 

This order will remain in effect until modified or rescinded by a subsequent order or until City Council has approved the end of the Civil Emergency.  The temporary special operational rules and procedures for restaurants inside the City of Myrtle Beach are:

  1. Notwithstanding other zoning regulations governing signs, the following temporary signage is allowed:
    • Temporary freestanding signage not to exceed 32 square feet total, which may include banners and “A” frame signs.
    • May have up to four temporary directional signs not to exceed four (4) square feet each.
    • Temporary wall signage not to exceed 32 square feet total.
    • Balloons are prohibited.
    • Through end of Sunday, March 29, 2020, the use of restaurant “mascots” is permitted.  This provision may be extended on a week-by-week basis thereafter.
  1. Restaurants may have up to three temporary tents, not to exceed 300 square feet in total.
  1. Sign/tent placement:
    • Any temporary tents and/or signage may only be placed on the property in which the restaurant is located unless such property has a zero front setback.
    • Signs may not be placed in a public right of way unless the restaurant has a zero lot line.  In such cases, the restaurant may submit a site plan showing the placement of signage only (no tents) on the adjacent sidewalk.  The plan must maintain a minimum of four feet clear passage so as not to obstruct pedestrian use of the sidewalk. In such instances signage is limited to eight square feet in the public rights-of-way.  Such cases must be specifically approved by the City Manager and shall include an assumption of liability by the restaurant for any claims arising from the placement of signage in the rights-of-way.
    • Signs may not be placed in such a way to cause a sight hazard (subject to the city’s sole determination).
  1. Public parking spaces may be temporarily designated and/or marked for the following uses:
    • Curbside Pickup
    • Delivery
  1. The temporary rules and procedures above are subject to modification, in whole or in part, upon public notice thereof.

MYRTLE BEACH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Although the airport is located within the city limits of Myrtle Beach, the city does NOT own, operate or have jurisdiction over airport activities.  For information, visit Myrtle Beach International Airport's website at https://www.flymyrtlebeach.com and http://www.flymyrtlebeach.com/coronavirus/

PRICE GOUGING

The South Carolina Price Gouging Law is in effect.  The law protects against price gouging and scams, namely the action or attempted action of renting or selling a commodity at “an unconscionable price.”  To learn more, click here.  To report price gouging, send an email with supporting documentation and contact information to the South Carolina Attorney General at pricegouging@scag.govOr, call 803-737-3953.

DO YOUR PART:  “FOLLOW THE FIVE” AND HELP SAVE LIVES

Hands

The coronavirus illness is more severe among the elderly or those with pre-existing health conditions and compromised immune systems.  However, public health is a shared responsibility!  Follow the five steps below to ensure we protect our community, state and country from the coronavirus.

  1. Keep yourself healthy…  The best defense against respiratory illness – the common cold, flu or the coronavirus – is to keep yourself healthy.  Practice cleanliness, stay hydrated and eat healthy foods that contain Vitamin C and Vitamin D.
  2. Feeling unwell?  Stay home!  Keep away from others and contact your healthcare provider immediately to receive instructions.
  3. Care for your hands and face…  Wash your hands, and often, for 20 seconds with warm water and soap.  Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.  Do not touch your face!  And, disinfect surfaces touched within your home and work space as often as possible, including all electronic devices!
  4. Cover coughs and sneezes…  Always cough or sneeze into an elbow, and immediately sanitize the area affected.  When possible, cough or sneeze into tissues and discard in secure trash can straightaway.
  5. Distance yourself from others…  Maintain a distance of six feet, or more.  Avoid public places by ordering take out foods and utilize pick-up grocery services.

COVID-19 INFO & HELPFUL LINKS

What are the symptoms of this disease?  Coronavirus infection in humans can result in respiratory illness ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as pneumonia.  The symptoms are similar to those caused by other respiratory viruses, such as the flu, and include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. 

How does the virus spread?  The virus is spread by direct contact with respiratory droplets that are sneezed or coughed from people who are ill.  At this time, there is no specific treatment for the illness.  Instead, treatment involves supportive care for symptoms.  Efforts are underway to develop a vaccine.  Currently, it is thought that the novel coronavirus virus spreads from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet).  Based on other coronaviruses, symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after someone is exposed. 

Choose information sources wisely...  Information about this new illness is still developing, but be aware of the “infodemic” which often accompanies such a topic.  False information already exists online about the coronavirus, so stick to reliable websites for your information and updates.  Here are several sites to consider.