North Myrtle Beach sign

North Myrtle Beach's new sign at the Main Street Connector and Highway 17. Photo by Christian Boschult 

While Myrtle Beach on Monday closed all its public parks, including its two dog parks, North Myrtle Beach is taking a different route, for now.

“We go from being super busy, run to the store, run here; it’s kind of hard after a day or two. How do you not get out and walk around?” asked North Myrtle Beach councilor Fred Coyne. “And we have beautiful weather on top of that. It’s hard. How much TV can you watch?” 

Myrtle Beach took action shortly before Gov. Henry McMaster issued a stay-at-home order, with the exceptions being trips for recreation, for work, for family and for getting essential goods and services.

North Myrtle Beach has closed playground equipment and ballparks, said Mayor Marilyn Hatley, but the city hasn’t shut down the parks completely. Walking trails and the dog park remain open. 

Hatley said as long as people follow social distancing guidelines, “we think it’s healthy for people to get out, get some fresh air and walk on the walking trails.”

City officials said they won’t need to shut down the parks unless people aren’t following social distancing guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends keeping 6 feet apart.

“Right now, people are being good and social distancing and using it properly,” said city spokesperson Pat Dowling. “People are appreciating the fact that the parks are open, and they’re appreciating the fact that if they don’t comply with social distancing, it could cause them to close. That goes for the beach too.” 

Dowling said while the beach is still open, public accesses and parking lots remain closed in line with the governor’s orders. People with ocean-front houses and private accesses can still go on the beach, as long as they comply with social distancing.

So far, Dowling said, the city hasn’t yet had to cite any groups of three or more on the beach for refusing to disperse. 

“As we get into the weekend, especially Easter weekend, if it’s nice weather, those who want to be on the beach will be on the beach,” Dowling added. “We’ll have additional beach patrol officers there to remind people who aren’t social distancing to please do so.” 

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