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Coronavirus Advisory

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EMERGENCY RESPONSE:  CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
UPDATED:  4:00 P.M., FRIDAY, JULY 10, 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 to assess and update the situation in light of the reported cases of coronavirus in Horry County.  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.

As of July 10, 2020, city personnel continue daily operations.  City team members wear masks, 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.   

To find a list of free COVID-19 testing locations in South Carolina, click here.

FACE MASKS

Face masks required...  The Myrtle Beach City Council unanimously supported a public mask requirement during a special Council meeting on July 2.  City Manager John Pedersen issued the executive order, which requires residents and visitors, ages 10 and up, to wear a cloth facemask at retail and foodservice establishments, as well as in public spaces at overnight accommodations.  To view the order, click here.  For a list of frequently asked questions, click here.

Customers must wear a mask in enclosed areas of retail stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, personal care businesses, professional services and gyms and fitness centers, among other locations, with limited exceptions.  Retail, restaurant and accommodation staff also must wear masks whenever they are in public areas or working with the public.  Failure to wear a mask when required is a civil infraction with a fine of up to $100 upon conviction. 

Exemptions from the mask requirement include when on the beach, when walking, when doing indoor or outdoor physical activity, in a car, in an unenclosed area of a retail or foodservice establishment, while actually eating, when working in a private office, within the same household as other family members or when an underlying medical condition precludes wearing a mask.  See the executive order for full details. 

The emergency order requiring masks in public is in place through Labor Day, unless lifted earlier.  In approving the order, City Council members encouraged residents and visitors to voluntarily comply for the health and safety of all.  Many residents and visitors have requested such a mask requirement as the number of COVID-19 cases in Horry County has risen.

Businesses where the staff are repeatedly cited for not wearing masks could be declared public nuisances and have their business licenses suspended.  The mask requirement is effective at midnight on July 2, 2020.


FIND COVID-19 FILES ONLINE

Here are links to the related COVID-19 files....

PUBLIC BEACH ACCESSES 

Effective immediately, public beach accesses are open. Beachgoers must abide by strict social distancing practices.  The beach will be policed to enforce these safety measures.  

Public Beach Access Parking Lots...  Public beach access parking  protocol resumes, with paid parking enforced for vehicles without a City of Myrtle Beach residential parking decal.  To learn more, visit the following webpages....

SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR'S EXECUTIVE ORDERS

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster's executive orders are listed below.  These actions slow the spread of the coronavirus and protect the state's residents.  To view all of Governor McMaster's executive orders, click here.

MODIFICATION OF EMERGENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR RETAIL STORES AND BEACH ACCESS CLOSURE
On Monday, April 20, the governor announced the beach access closure order will expire at 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21.  Local jurisdictions' decision-making bodies will now decide the appropriate actions to take regarding public beach access.  Also, smaller retail businesses are allowed to reopen at 5:00 p.m. today (examples:  furniture, sporting goods, craft, flea market, etc.).  Merchants must adhere to six-feet social distancing rules and the restrictions set forth for "big box" stores, which includes one of the following (whichever is less):
 
  • 20% occupancy can be in-store
  • five customers per 1,000 square feet
As a reminder, all law enforcement officials have the right to disperse gathers of three or more individuals.  The rule applies to both closed and open spaces, including beaches.  No decisions have been made on when schools will reopen.

CLOSURE OF STATE'S PUBLIC SCHOOLS
On April 22, the governor announced that public schools would remain closed through the end of the school year.  Instruction continues, but buildings remain closed.  For more information, see https://ed.sc.gov/.

EMERGENCY ORDER EXTENDED
On April 27, Governor McMaster signed Executive Order 2020-29 to extend the State of Emergency for South Carolina.  The order extends the previous declaration an additional 15 days.

"WORK OR HOME" ORDER LIFTED, OTHERS AMENDED
On May 1, Governor McMaster signed Executive Orders 2020-30 and 2020-31, which lifted the "Work or Home" restriction immediately and allowed restaurants to provide outdoor dining service effective Monday, May 4.   The governor also lifted the restriction on visitors to South Carolina from the Tri-State Area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut).  

GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES “CONTACT TRACING” & INCREASED TESTING EFFORTS
On Wednesday, May 6, Governor McMaster announced increased testing and enhanced “contact tracing” efforts statewide through the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).  The increased testing will produce higher COVID-19 numbers for the state.  However, the McMaster asserted that the public should continue to take precautionary measures, including social distancing.

What is a “contact tracer?” A contact tracer forms a relationship with a COVID-19 positive individual.  The tracer provides important information about care, food services available in the area and asks about recent interactions with others.  The information provided helps the SCDHEC notify those who may be at risk for coronavirus to help contain spread of the virus.

GOVERNOR TO ALLOW INDOOR DINING SERVICES WITH LIMITATIONS
On Friday, May 8, Governor Henry McMaster lifted all restrictions regarding boats and waterways, effective immediately.  McMaster also announced that indoor dining is allowed beginning Monday, May 11, with the following conditions:

  • Seating limited to up to 50% of the Certificate of Occupancy issued by Fire Marshal.
  • Enhanced sanitation efforts to maintain cleanliness of chairs, tables, doorknobs and all touchable surfaces.
  • Businesses are asked to post hand sanitizer stations at entry points.
  • Table condiments should be removed from table and provided upon request.
  • Cleaning supplies must include single-use paper products, such as paper towels.
  • Tables must be spaced six to eight feet apart to keep diners six feet apart.
  • No more than eight customers at each table.

It is important to note that police agencies have the authority to arrest and criminally charge individuals who pose a threat to public safety by not observing social distancing measures (three or more).  Locations include dining establishments, boats, waterways, stores and all public spaces.

CLOSE CONTACT SERVICES TO RESUME WITH LIMITATIONS ON MAY 18
Governor Henry McMaster announced that close-contact service providers, fitness and exercise centers, commercial gyms and public or commercial swimming pools will be able to open in a limited capacity on Monday, May 18.  Close contact service providers include barber shops, hair salons, waxing salons, threading salons, nail salons and spas, body-art facilities and tattoo services, tanning salons, massage-therapy establishments and massage services.  Commercial gyms will include group exercise facilities such as yoga studios, barre classes and others.   Amusements, theaters and a few other business types are still prevented from operating.   

The state has developed
 general guidelines for close contact service providers, along with specific guidelines for cosmetology establishmentsgyms and fitness centers, and public or commercial poolsThese include, but are not limited to: 

  • Guidance on social distancing within businesses, including recommended capacity requirements
  • Additional cleaning and sanitizing guidelines for equipment, tables, chairs, etc.
  • Additional guidance on health checks for employees
  • Additional guidance on training for employees
GOVERNOR REOPENS TOURIST ATTRACTIONS EFFECTIVE MAY 22
On May 20, Governor Henry McMaster announced that attractions are permitted to reopen beginning Friday, May 22.   He also lifted restrictions on youth and adult recreational sports, effective May 30.

GOVERNOR EXTENDS STATE OF EMERGENCY & PROHIBITS SPECIFIC BUSINESSES FROM REOPENING
On June 11, 2020, the governor signed Executive Order No. 2020-040.  The order continues to prohibit night clubs, theaters and adult entertainment venues from reopening.

"LAST CALL" ORDER PROHIBITS ALCOHOL SALES AT BARS AND RESTAURANTS AFTER 11:00 P.M.
On July 10, 2020, the governor announced Excecutive Order No. 2020- .  The order prohibits alcohol sales after 11:00 p.m. at restaurants.  The governor's order will go into effect at 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 11, 2020.  The statewide effort is intended to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

FREE ONLINE GUIDES FOR REOPENING BUSINESSES

Short Term Rental Businesses...  In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals (VRHP) and the Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) have compiled a list of recommended practices to ensure rigorous sanitization and disinfection protocols.  To view the free resource, click here.

Independent Retail Businesses...  Are you an independent retailer with concerns about how to reopen due to COVID-19?  If so, &Access offers a free, helpful guide regarding store re-openings and safety precautions.  To view the file, click here.

FINANCIAL RELIEF FOR CITY RESIDENTS & BUSINESSES

In April 2020, the Myrtle Beach City Council approved three emergency orders designed to provide financial relief to city residents and businesses during the extended coronavirus health emergency.  

Recreation Services...  The order also grants extensions for recreation center memberships due to the recreation centers’ closures.

Hospitality and Accommodations Fees...  For businesses, the new orders waive late fees for payments of Hospitality or Accommodations Fees or taxes.  The payments due on April 20 and May 20 can be submitted without late penalties on or before June 20, 2020.  Call 843-918-1200 or email buslic@cityofmyrtlebeach.com for information.

Business Licenses...  The City of Myrtle Beach will accept business license payments without penalty on or before June 30, 2020.  Business license renewals and payments are due by April 30.  However, recognizing the economic impact of COVID-19, City Council has waived any penalty for payments received as late as June 30.  Businesses affected by government orders related to the COVID-19 emergency may request an emergency extension for the 2020-21 license year.  All such emergency payment plan requests must be made in writing on forms supplied for that purpose.  Additional information, including a full explanation of “affected by government orders,” is available on the Documents Center webpage in the Business License Division folder.  Questions?  Call 843-918-1200 or email buslic@cityofmyrtlebeach.com

Utility Billing...  
In March, the City of Myrtle Beach temporarily suspended late fees and water cut-offs for past due utility accounts in response to the COVID-19 health emergency. Beginning June 29, 2020, we will resume adding late penalties to bills that are past due and will again mail late notices to customers.  Effective July 8, 2020, we will resume water cut-offs for accounts which are past due.  If you experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19 and need special arrangements, please contact customer service at (843) 918-1212.  Please note that the look of our Late Notice is changing.  We are discontinuing the red sealed form.  New Late Notices will arrive in a window envelope and will be the same size as your monthly utility bill.  Call 843-918-1212 or email mbutilpay@cityofmyrtlebeach.com for information.  

CITY FACILITIES, MEETINGS & EVENTS

FACILITIES & MEETINGS
The rise in positive COVID-19 cases in Horry County prompts renewed efforts to prevent the spread of the illness.  Below is the list of the City of Myrtle Beach’s revisited protocols, effective immediately.

Admission to City Facilities...

  • The scheduled reopening of the City Services building to the public has been postponed indefinitely. 
  • Admission to the city’s indoor facilities will be by appointment only.  Exclusions include the following:  recreation center access (granted to members and summer camp participants only at Crabtree Memorial Gymnasium, Mary C. Canty Recreation Center and Pepper Geddings Recreation Center); scheduled events at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center and Sports Center; and, City Council Workshops and Meetings.
  • All individuals, ages 10 and up, entering city facilities must wear a facemask or face shield.  Upon arrival and departure, temperatures will be taken utilizing a no-touch thermometer.  This requirement is not intended to deny access to members of the public who do not have a mask upon arrival.  We have a good supply from a reputable source, and they will be distributed to each location for individuals who arrive without a mask or shield.  
  • The Parks, Recreation, and Sports Tourism Department may develop new protocols for the public’s use of exercise equipment, gymnasiums, etc.
  • The Myrtle Beach Convention Center may develop new protocols for the public’s use of spaces (for private events only).

City Employees and Masks...

  • City employees shall also wear a mask whenever they interact with the public on a face-to-face basis, whether inside or outside of a building.
  • The Police Department may adopt a different standard for interactions by sworn officers in the conduct of their duties.
  • City employees must also wear a mask whenever meeting with other employees in the same room or when the employees share office space where it is difficult or impossible to consistently maintain at least six feet of social distancing.  Individuals who are working by themselves within their own office space are not required to wear masks.
  • Employees must wear masks while using break rooms, hallways, restroom facilities and other common areas of city facilities.
  • Employees must wear a mask whenever more than one individual is in the same city vehicle or personal vehicle on city business (no exceptions).


Chapin Memorial Library is open with revised service hours...
 
The library’s zero contact pickup service will be available and encouraged.  Virtual programs will continue through the Chapin Memorial Library YouTube channel.  City personnel will maintain reduced capacity limits.  Questions?  Call 843-918-1275.  New facility hours are, as follows:

Monday through Thursday – 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Friday – 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday – 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Sunday – Closed

City of Myrtle Beach's recreation centers...  Below are the updated membership hours for Myrtle Beach’s recreation centers, which opened on Monday, June 15, 2020.  Access is limited to members only, and pools and showers remain closed. 

Crabtree Memorial Gymnasium, 1004 Crabtree Lane
Monday through Friday – 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Saturday – 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Sunday – Closed

Mary C. Canty Recreation Center, 971 Canal Street
Monday through Thursday – 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Friday – 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday – 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday – Closed

Pepper Geddings Recreation Center, 3205 North Oak Street
Monday through Friday – 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Saturday – 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Sunday – Closed

Savannah’s Playground
Open Regular Hours

MEETING ANNOUNCEMENTS
Announcements about meetings and events for subsequent weeks will be provided in a timely manner to Friday Fax email recipients.  To sign up,  fill out the simple Sign Up Form at the bottom of the Friday Fax webpage.  Or, see our Meeting Schedule webpage.

EVENTS
To see a list of events, visit the city's
 Events webpage.  For a helpful list of links to online e-resources, 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....

Chapin Memorial Library

Myrtle Beach’s Chapin Memorial Library now offers “zero contact” pickup service.  Library patrons can request items by either placing holds online through their account or by calling 843-918-1275. This service is available by appointment, Monday-Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Once your appointment is scheduled, the library staff will provide instructions for “zero contact” pickup.  Items cannot be released without making an appointment, so remember to schedule ahead!  We have a 10-item limit per household for this service.  For more information, visit https://www.chapinlibrary.org/

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 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.  The city's drive-through service window is also open.  You also may pay utility bills online.  See the links below for more information.  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.

Recreation Centers & Services
With the recent 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. 

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, effective immediately.  The 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.

WAYS TO HELP

In response to a request from the public, we've created a Ways to Help List during the COVID-19 health emergency.   The webpage offers a number of ways that our residents and businesses can reach out to support others in the area who are struggling with the economic effects created by this issue. 

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 IN SOUTH CAROLINA

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.