LIST: Lowcountry municipalities announce plans to fight spread of COVID-19

LIST: Lowcountry municipalities announce plans to fight spread of COVID-19
The city of Charleston is among several municipalities across the Lowcounty announcing plans to prevent COVID-19. (Source: Live 5)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Counties, cities and towns across the Lowcountry are releasing their plans and announcing closures as they work to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Here is a list of municipalities in the area and the plans they have released.

Beaufort County

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, via its Emergency Management Division, has implemented Operational Condition 1 status (OPCON 1). This condition is as a result of the national pandemic for the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Beaufort County Council passed an Emergency Ordinance yesterday, Monday, March 16, authorizing the County Administrator to take the necessary steps to protect Beaufort County residents and visitors.

For information regarding the coronavirus as related to Beaufort County operations, visit www.beaufortcountysc.gov/topics/coronavirus/.

Berkeley County

Berkeley County leadership has met with county directors and elected officials throughout the day to develop a plan for County operations in response to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

Berkeley County has explored opportunities for work to be done online and is closing County buildings and facilities to the public, effective Tuesday, March 17.

County employees are still to report to work.

There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Berkeley County, and Berkeley County leaders are working to limit the spread of the virus while safely maintaining County operations.

County leaders are canceling many public meetings, public events, and moving several meetings to phone or video conferences.

City of Charleston

Effective midnight Tuesday, public indoor establishments within the City of Charleston will be temporarily restricted from permitting large gatherings of 50 or more people, including but not limited to bars and restaurants; movie theaters and live performance venues; bowling alleys and arcades; gyms and fitness centers, and houses of worship.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg announced the following steps being taken:

  • All public meetings have been canceled through the end of the month. Essential meetings will be rescheduled as needed with technology and social distancing practices that protect participants and the general public.
  • Public performances and gallery showings have been canceled in all city facilities through March 31. All instructor led Recreation Department programs and classes, including youth and adult sports programs, have been suspended.
  • Consistent with CDC guidelines, citizens are discouraged from gathering in groups of 50 or more in city parks and playgrounds.
  • City senior centers are closed.
  • The city’s Permit Center will be closed to the general public. Many permits can be submitted online through the Citizen Access Portal at https://www.charleston-sc.gov/cap. For permit types not yet configured in CAP, permit applications can be submitted digitally to permits@charleston-sc.gov.
  • At this time, there will be no inspections of occupied structures. Inspections for unoccupied structures will continue as normal.
  • City departments are implementing work-from-home policies that allow city services to continue.
  • City Police, Fire and Sanitation have implemented enhanced safety protocols and prepared continuity of operations plans in case they are forced to maintain operations with a reduced workforce.

Charleston County

Charleston County Government is at Operational Condition (OPCON) 2. Beginning Tuesday, March 17, the Charleston County Citizen Information Line will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist citizens who have questions about Charleston County operations regarding coronavirus/COVID-19.

Citizen Info Line: 843.746.3900, Spanish Line: 843.746.3909, DHEC Care Line: 1-855-472-3432 Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for questions about COVID-19

MUSC Health: Virtual Care 843-792-7000 or http://campaigns.muschealth.org/virtual-care/index.html, Roper St Francis Virtual Care: http://rsfh.com/virtualcare,

Charleston County Council will have an Emergency County Council meeting on Tuesday, March 17 at noon.

Charleston County Government will continue normal operations, this includes curbside recycling, the landfill and convenience centers.

Service Center Operations

  • The Charleston County Auditor and Treasurer will be temporarily closing the St. Paul’s and East Cooper Service Centers.
  • The North Charleston and downtown locations will remain open during normal business hours.
  • Citizens are encouraged to utilize the Charleston County Treasurer’s Office free e-check option to pay taxes online. https://sc-charleston.publicaccessnow.com/
  • If you have additional questions about your tax bill, you can call the Auditor’s Office at 843.958.4200 or chat with a representative online https://auditor.charlestoncounty.org/. If you have questions concerning payments, call the Treasurer’s Office at 843.958.4360.

Charleston County Magistrate Courts

  • Bond Hearing Court will conduct only two sessions a day at 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
  • All Magistrate Court locations will remain open to accept filings, payments and conduct emergency hearings.
  • All jury trials and traffic courts are postponed until after March 31, 2020. Letters will be sent to all parties notifying of their rescheduled hearings. Non-jury trials and other hearings may continue to be held, but only attorneys, their clients, and necessary witnesses will be allowed to appear.
  • Online payments are available and encouraged.
  • All civil proceedings will be halted until after March 31, 2020. There will be no new eviction putouts during this period.

Citizens can interact several ways with Charleston County Government remotely:

  • Chat online with the Auditor’s Office, Environmental Management and Board of Elections
  • Click and Go Page: common requested forms – charlestoncounty.org
  • Citibot: Text “hello” to 843.800.4121 for questions about recycling, to request a mosquito control spray or to report a pothole.

Dorchester County

Dorchester County Council declared a state of emergency Monday night.

The declaration will remain in place until 6 p.m. on Monday, April 13, 2020, or until otherwise rescinded, the county said.

“At 6:00 PM today, Monday, March 16, Dorchester County transitioned to Operating Condition (OPCON) 2, partial activation of the emergency operations center,” county government officials said.

Beginning, Tuesday, March 17 Dorchester County Administrative Office will be closed to the public. All offices will be available by phone and email. Residents and businesses are encouraged to use online services.

All Dorchester County Courts will remain open for the following critical functions.

City of Folly Beach

A local state of emergency is also now in effect in the city.

Folly Beach officials called on restaurants to reduce their occupancy and encourage takeout meals.

Folly Beach City Hall will be closed after Monday at 5 p.m. until further notice while municipal meetings, court hearings, and elections are all being postponed.

Georgetown County

Georgetown County government will temporarily close the majority of its facilities to the public beginning on Wednesday, March 18. County staff will still report to work to continue serving the public via phone and online. Closures will be in place for an indeterminate amount of time as the county is in a State of Emergency.

The step is part of Georgetown County’s effort to protect residents and employees as jurisdictions across the nation deal with the worldwide threat of COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus. The highly contagious virus has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization and poses a significant threat to those in the county as it continues to spread. This threat led Georgetown County to declare a State of Emergency yesterday and close parks and recreation facilities.

“This is an unprecedented situation for us,” said Georgetown County Interim Administrator Wesley Bryant. “We want to keep providing services to the best of our ability, but at the same time, we want to lead by example and do our part to keep our employees and our community safe. It’s going to require some innovation and creativity on our part as we move forward and figure this out as the situation evolves.”

A few key facilities will remain open with some alterations to normal operations to limit person-to-person contact and the spread of germs. Those facilities are as follows:

  • The landfill and community recycling centers will continue to be open to the public for normal hours of operation. However, individuals are asked not to socialize at these facilities. Staff may elect to limit the number of users on site at any time. No loitering will be allowed. All swap shops will be closed until further notice.
  • The Georgetown Airport and terminal building will remain open. Staff will take steps to limit the number of people in the facility at any time to less than 10.
  • The Register of Deeds office in the historic courthouse will continue to allow very limited admittance, which will be by appointment only. See further details later in this news release.
  • The Georgetown County Office of Elections and Voter Registration will remain open for regular hours to accommodate filing for partisan elected offices, which opened yesterday. Staff will take actions to limit the number of people inside the facility at once. Call (843) 545-3339 for an appointment.

All other county facilities will be closed to the public. Hours of operation for most county offices will remain at 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., though some offices may reduce staff to accommodate illnesses, absences due to lack of childcare while schools are out, and to allow for a contingency plan to replace staff who become ill or who are required to be quarantined due to exposure to someone who has the virus. Some offices and departments that do not generally work directly with the public may direct staff to work from home. Office hours, email addresses and phone numbers for all departments are available at www.gtcounty.org. A directory of departments is available via phone at (843) 545-3063.

For residents who need to drop off documents, payments, permit requests or other business items, the county will establish a dropbox immediately inside the front door of its main building – the historic county courthouse, located at 129 Screven Street.

Additionally:

  • The Treasurer’s Office and Auditor’s Office will extend the due date for taxes on all vehicles and watercraft due between March 31 and April 30. The S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles has agreed to waive penalties for the same period. Taxes may be paid online at https://georgetowncountysctax.com or by phone at 1-833-594-5241. For more information regarding tax payments, call (843) 545-3102.
  • While the Bureau of Aging Services has cancelled its congregate dining programs, clients will receive regular wellness telephone calls from staff. Clients may also elect to transfer to the county’s home delivered meal program until the congregate dining program is restored. To sign up, call (843) 545-3185.
  • Georgetown County Circuit Courts have postponed all jury trials. Individuals summonsed for jury duty for March 23-30 need not report for jury duty. Non-jury proceedings will be scheduled/held at the judge’s discretion. All roll calls and other large gatherings are cancelled until further notice. Filings and payments (money orders, business checks or cashier’s checks only) may be left in the dropbox located outside the entrance of the Judicial Center, 401 Cleland Street, Georgetown. The dropbox will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Call the number on the dropbox to notify the clerk’s office. The documents will immediately be retrieved and processed. Clocked copies will be mailed to the attorney.
  • Georgetown County Summary Courts have cancelled all court sessions until further notice. Parties will be notified by mail of their rescheduled dates. Those needing to make payments for any of the county’s magistrate offices may do so at the drop box location at Central Traffic Court, 333 Cleland Street.  No cash and no personal checks are accepted – money orders or cashier’s checks only. Please include a copy of the ticket or case number with payment. Payments may also be made via the Georgetown County website, www.gtcounty.org.
  • Family Court emergency hearings will be scheduled on an as needed basis. For any other Family Court concerns, call (843) 545-3215.
  • Any Probate Court hearings for non-emergency matters shall be continued to a future date and time. Filings can be made by mail, or if time is of the essence, our staff will try to accommodate. Customers are asked to consider waiting several weeks to apply for marriage licenses. Please keep in mind that couples only have to observe the mandatory 24- hour waiting period to receive a license after applying, so there is no need to apply far in advance. However, for those who cannot wait, call the Probate office for specific instructions. For other needs or concerns, call (843) 545-3274 to see if staff can help you via phone or online.
  • In the Purchasing Office, until further notice all bids must be submitted electronically through the Purchasing Department’s Vendor Registry webpage. Please visit the County’s Purchasing page at http://www.georgetowncountysc.org/purchasing/ for instructions on how to submit bids electronically through this system.  Any scheduled bid openings will still be opened at the designated date and time as listed in the bid document or related addendum. However, due to the office closure to the public, these bid openings will not be open to the public, but will be accompanied by at least one county staff witness. As usual, following the bid opening, bid tabulation results will be posted online for the public’s viewing.
  • Those seeking permits from the Building office may print permit application forms online at http://www.georgetowncountysc.org/building/. Completed applications and scanned copies of plans may be emailed to bldpermits@gtcounty.org. Credit card payments can be made by calling the Building Department at (843) 545-3116. Check payments can be mailed to Georgetown County Building Department, P.O. Drawer 421270, Georgetown, SC, 29442.  For assistance, or if you are unable to access our permits online, please contact the Building Department at (843) 545-3116.
  • Those seeking permits from the Planning and Zoning Department may print permit application forms online at http://www.georgetowncountysc.org/Planning/ or http://www.georgetowncountysc.org/Zoning/. Completed applications and scanned copies of attachments may be emailed to plncomm@gtcounty.org. Credit card payments can be made by calling the Building Department at (843) 545-3116.  Check payments and hard copies can be mailed to Georgetown County Planning Department, P.O. Drawer 421270, Georgetown, SC, 29442. For assistance, or if you are unable to access our applications online, please contact the Planning Department at 843-545-3158 or the Zoning Department at 843-545-3602.
  • The Register of Deeds Office will allow paralegals admittance to the Record Room by appointment only. Admittance will be limited to three people at a time, limited to approximately four hours per appointment. Appointment times will be 8:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. and 12:45-5 p.m. To make an appointment, call (843) 545-3088. Those receiving appointments must remain at their assigned work station during their appointed time. Documents may be left in the dropbox at the front of the courthouse. The Register of Deeds staff will check this box several times a day and asks that all documents be in a marked envelope with clear directions for where and who it should be directed. Items dropped off without a paralegal’s name on them will be recorded upon receipt.
  • The Sheriff’s Office is operating at full capacity, but will limit access to the public, as well as limiting non-essential responsibilities (.e. fingerprints, shooting range permits, etc.). Access to the building by the public will be limited to the lobby only. Any questions can be relayed to the front office by phone.
  • All county board and commission meetings, with the exception of a Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST) Commission meeting scheduled for today, March 17, at 6 p.m., are cancelled until further notice. The CPST meeting will be conducted by phone. Media will be invited to participate via phone as well. County Council meetings will continue as scheduled, but may also be conducted virtually. The county will also strongly recommend that all state-appointed boards and commissions within the county cancel meetings until further notice.

The first confirmed case COVID-19 in Georgetown County was reported yesterday at Tidelands Waccamaw Hospital. Cases have been confirmed in Horry and Charleston counties.

All individuals are encouraged to continue practicing the basic precautionary measures recommended by SCDHEC and the CDC, including:

  • Washing hands frequently;
  • Coughing and sneezing into a barrier, such as your elbow or a tissue;
  • Avoiding touching of the eyes, nose and mouth;
  • Avoiding contact with those who are sick; and
  • Staying at home if you are sick.

City of Goose Creek

The City of Goose Creek has made the following changes effective immediately:

All previously scheduled public meetings — including city council, planning commission, architectural review board and cultural arts commission have been canceled. Any special-called city council meetings prior to the regular meeting scheduled for April 14 will be announced and publicized on the city’s website.

All Goose Creek recreation facilities, including the community center and activity center, are closed to the public through at least the end of March. All sports activities, programs and other events are to be canceled, and no events will take place until April at the earliest.

All city water payments, permit applications, and business license payments will only be accepted at the drive-thru window at Goose Creek City Hall. Other than the drive-thru window, city hall is closed to the public. City government asks that residents note that water will not be shut off for non-payment as long as the state of emergency is in effect.

All municipal court proceedings, including jury trials, are postponed until April at the earliest. Court payments are to be taken at the window inside the municipal court building.

Crowfield Golf Club will remain open for play, but the bar and grill will serve take-out only, and there will be no congregating in the clubhouse, pro shop, or patio area. All golf carts will be sanitized and disinfected between rounds.

The city says it will continue to closely monitor this situation and will update the public via their website and social media as often as needed.

City of Isle of Palms

The City of Isle of Palms is implementing the following measures:

  • Police and Fire Departments will continue with normal operations and continue taking necessary measures to protect personnel from exposure and infection of COVID-19. Please call the non-emergency number at 843-886-6522 rather than walk-in for nonemergency questions.
  • The Recreation Center will be closed until March 31. All recreational and athletic programs/classes will be postponed until further notice.
  • City Hall offices will be closed to the public starting 8 a.m., Tuesday, March 17th. City Hall staff will work remotely and staggered schedules to increase physical distance among employees and between employees and others. The City encourages all citizens to delay non-essential business and walk-in customer service to City Hall. Parking and Court fines can be paid online or by mail to PO Drawer 508 Isle of Palms, South Carolina. Other payments can be made online via credit card or through the drop box in the lobby of City Hall, or by mail to P.O. Drawer 508 Isle of Palms, South Carolina. Every effort will be made to accommodate residents remotely.
  • Police Department will temporarily stop issuing in person residential beach parking permits and passes. Residents who apply online will receive their permits and passes via us mail.
  • As of now, household garbage collection will operate on a normal schedule. However, this is subject to any closure at the Charleston County Bee’s Ferry Landfill site.
  • All City Council, Committee, Boards and Commissions meetings scheduled for March will be postponed until after March 31.
  • Municipal Court originally scheduled for March 25, will be postponed to a later date. Notices will be mailed this week. For questions or more information, please email Amy Wilkerson Lee, Clerk of Court, at amyw@iop.net
  • The Annual Yard Sale, originally scheduled for March 28, will be postponed to a later date.
  • The public restrooms located in Front Beach will be temporarily closed until further notice.
  • Online Services available:

Town of Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie signed a proclamation declaring a state of emergency, effective Monday, to meet public emergencies affecting life, health, safety and the property of residents and businesses in Mount Pleasant.

Town officials say the proclamation will remain in effect until March 31.

“I find that the conditions caused by COVID-19 are likely to require the combined forces of a mutual aid region to respond effectively,” Haynie said. “To do so, and to safeguard against the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus, we will meet CDC guidelines for mass gathering or large community events not to exceed 50 persons.”

The Town of Mount Pleasant will continue to perform its normal operational functions. Garbage and trash collections will run as scheduled. Town services to include business licensing, scheduling for building and construction inspections, and planning and zoning will be available online.

The Town of Mount Pleasant announced today the following cancellations:

  • All Town Facilities are closed to the public until further notice.
  • Recreation facilities and indoor and outdoor operations are suspended until further notice
  • All Court Sessions will be canceled for the remainder of the month. Notices will be sent for rescheduling.

Mission critical services are still operational. For up to date information, please see www.tompsc.com.

  • For Business License, press 1: 843-849-2786
  • For Building Inspections, press 2: 843-884-5184
  • For Planning press 3: 843-884-1229
  • For Public Services press 4: 843-849-2022
  • For Transportation press 5: 843-856-3080
  • For Fire Department press 6: 843-884-0623
  • For Police Department press 7: 843-884-4176

For all other inquiries please email: Information@tompsc.com

City of North Charleston

North Charleston Emergency Management released the following update on North Charleston City Operations through March 31:

  • All public meetings cancelled.
  • Trash and garbage pick up will continue as scheduled.
  • Police will continue to operate normally with no reduction in services.
  • Fire will continue to operate normally with no reduction in services, however, all public events and stations visits are cancelled until further notice.
  • Courts will only open for bond hearings, which will take place at 9 a.m. only. Bond paperwork must be turned in by 7 a.m. to be heard same-day. All other court cases are to be rescheduled and written confirmation of the new court dates and times will be mailed to all case parties.
  • All recreational programs are suspended, and facilities are closed.
  • Riverfront Park is closed and park events to be rescheduled to a later date.
  • All senior centers are closed.
  • All Cultural Arts facilities are closed, all school performances suspended. North Charleston Arts Fest and the Children’s Festival are cancelled.
  • Building permitting will continue, however with very limited staffing, expect delays. Due to the lack of personnel any calls received after 9 a.m. will be handled on a first come first served basis. Permitting hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Limited inspections will be conducted 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.
  • Building plans can still be submitted online for review by Zoning, Building, Fire, and Public Works, but expect a delayed response time due to limited staffing.
  • Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals meetings have been cancelled through April 6. Applicants will be notified that the Public Safety Committee on March 19 has been cancelled.
  • Business licensing will continue with limited staffing.
  • North Charleston Fire Museum is closed until further notice.
  • All events at the North Charleston Coliseum, Performing Arts Center, and Convention Center are cancelled through the end of the month with most shows rescheduled to a later date.

Town of Summerville

The Town of Summerville continues to monitor information regarding the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). While Town Hall will remain open, the public will enter Town Hall from the W. 2nd South St. entrance between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. All services for permitting, planning, zoning, business licensing, code enforcement, and general requests are also available online through our CitizenServe portal.

Buildings Closed to the Public

  • Cuthbert Community Center
  • Gahagan Park and Recreation Building
  • Rollins Edwards Community Center

Court

  • All traffic/criminal court and preliminary hearings will be rescheduled for April 2020. The only sessions that will be held are bond hearings daily at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., if an afternoon bond is necessary. We are currently in the process of rescheduling all cases at this time. Our offices will remain open for payments Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Payments can also be made online at SC.gov or dropped off in our overnight payment receptacle outside Town Hall.

Events

  • 2020 Farmers Market has been postponed.
  • Fire Department’s Car Seat Installation.
  • Movies in the Park for Friday, March 27 is canceled.
  • Staff will work with permittees on upcoming rentals.
  • Any event over 50 is discouraged.

Finance

  • The Town will wave penalties for local hospitality and accommodations taxes due on March 20, 2020.

Meetings

  • The Commercial Design Review Board (CDRB) meeting planned for 4 p.m. Thursday, March 19, 2020, has been moved to Council Chambers. The meeting is limited to just applicants. It will be live streamed.

Recreation

  • All Town spring sports have been postponed.

Public Works activities, including trash and yard debris, will continue with limited human interaction.

Williamsburg County

All current and future bookings are canceled for any county facility. This includes any prior scheduled events.

  • All Chavis One-Stop services are suspended
  • All sports/activities and classes with County Recreation are suspended.
  • March Madness canceled for March 20-21 for the Donnelly Community.
  • Williamsburg Water and Sewer Authority advises in-person payments and interactions be made at the drive-thru.
  • Williamsburg County Treasurer’s Office encouraging citizens to use following payment methods: drive-thru, online williamsburgtreasurer.qpaybill.com/Taxes/TaxesDefaultType4.aspx
  • County government encouraging citizens that are feeling sick and/or showing flu like symptoms to refrain from visiting any office and call (843) 355-9321 for assistance.
  • The following facilities are open: Airport (843) 382-3800, Animal Care and Control (843) 355-9312, Emergency Management /E911-843-354-9330, Fire/EMS (843) 355-5383, Public Works (843) 355-8900, Recreation Department (843) 355-5004, Water and Sewer Authority (843) 355-8997, Transit (843) 355-9476.

Check back for updates to this story.

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