By Brian Sherman, The Island Eye News Managing Editor
The Lowcountry’s mayors have no problem with you visiting the beach during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. But if you plan to enjoy the sun and surf, which wasn’t an option for many local residents for sixand-a-half weeks, they want you to follow the rules and keep to yourself as much as possible.
A group of area mayors, including Jimmy Carroll of Isle of Palms and Pat O’Neil of Sullivan’s Island, have launched a public relations campaign aimed at convincing those who spend some time at the beach during the first big holiday of the season to practice social distancing as much as possible and help fight the spread of COVID-19.
Officials from across the Lowcountry met May 15, virtually, of course, to begin discussing plans for the campaign. In addition to Carroll, O’Neil and Charleston County Commission Chair Elliott Summey, the group included Will Haynie of Mount Pleasant, Tim Goodwin of Folly Beach, Keith Summey of North Charleston, John Tecklenburg of Charleston and Jane Darby of Edisto Beach.
They hope to get the message out through local newspapers and TV and radio stations and also talked about securing the services of a local celebrity to help out.
“The purpose was to see if we could coordinate our messaging between now and Memorial Day,” O’Neil commented May 15. “We want people to plan to be very responsible if they come out to the beach. We want to emphasize that we’re here, we’re looking forward to having people visit us again, but not everybody has to do it on Memorial Day weekend.”
“We wanted a total buy-in from all the other mayors,” Carroll added.
The mayor of Isle of Palms was concerned by the number of people who showed up at the beach after the city lifted the checkpoints that kept nonresidents off the island for most of the daylight hours.
“The first weekend every year to overwhelm us is usually Memorial Day weekend.
Yesterday was like Memorial Day weekend,” he said May 15. “If somebody was sick, the virus could have spread like wildfire.”
“What we’re trying to do is get people to obey social distancing,” he went on to say. “If people can’t obey the rules, we could end up closing the beaches again.”
“We hope to have the beach open for the whole summer,” O’Neil pointed out. “The only way we can do that is if people are behaving safely.”
“Help us keep the beaches open by using common sense,” Carroll concluded. “Help us help you enjoy the beach.