March 27, 2020
A Message from Mayor Weaver
During the past week, we have been saturated with communications at the Federal, State, and local levels about COVID-19, as well as the 24/7 coverage by media. We can be easily confused by the array of official government guidance that takes the form of suggestions, recommendations, orders, mandates, and tweets. Going in to the weekend, I would like to quickly summarize where we are with regard to Kiawah, so everyone has the same understanding.
I have a high degree of confidence in the buy-in of Kiawah’s residents and organizations that this is serious and requires a serious response. Differences, when they exist, are more often about approach and policy, rather than the paramount goal of protecting the health and safety of everyone on the island. While you may not agree with every policy position the Town has taken, interpretations ranging from “they don’t care and aren’t taking this seriously enough” to “what a complete overreaction” are not accurate. This is serious. We get it. I think more and more everyone gets it. We are going to continue to be guided by sound medical advice first and foremost. Controlling the spread of this virus is the goal. Preserving the island’s economic health and saving businesses and worker’s jobs is also important and is a legitimate factor in our decisions.
A summary of actions this past week:
There is no restriction on non-resident property owners or property owner’s families coming to the island, they are welcome, and no restriction is anticipated. But, you should appreciate that many of your neighbors, while they welcome you, are also uneasy. Please use good judgment. Don’t allow a family member to visit if they are sick. If you are coming from a location with a significant incidence of COVID-19 cases, think twice about whether you should travel. Please take seriously the advice of Federal authorities and our Governor that you self-quarantine for the appropriate period of time. At the very least, avoid public facilities such as Harris Teeter. Ensure your guests and family members respect everyone’s need for social distancing.
There is no restriction on authorized contractors working at their worksites on the island. Town building inspectors and code compliance officers are visiting worksites and will intervene if they observe any unsafe situations. If you have a contractor or service persons in your home, you need to decide whether you are comfortable with that activity continuing. We will work closely with the Community Association to ensure only authorized contractors are on the island, during authorized hours, and at their place of work. If you have a specific concern, please call the Town or KICA security.
Measured actions have been taken to temporarily restrict tourists (renters and hotel guests), with the Resort’s voluntary closing of the Sanctuary and the Town’s 21-day restriction on new rental bookings. I am comfortable that all major rental managers are fully complying. The same cannot be said of a number of other individual rental property owners. The Town will be acting decisively to enforce and may amend its emergency order to address those not complying with this order.
The number of renters on the island continues to decrease, and these visitors are being provided with guidance regarding managing COVID-19, our expectations, and regulations. Additional decisions will need to be made in the coming weeks regarding the extension of these restrictions and will be based on the facts at the time. Public health advice, the Governor’s recommendations, and resident feedback support that the Town leans toward caution and being more, rather than less, restrictive. This will likely next be discussed at the Town Council’s regularly scheduled April 7th meeting.
We continue to encourage outdoor activity while practicing appropriate social distancing measures. Our beach patrol is monitoring, and we currently see a high level of self-regulation. People are spread out and there are few groupings of people other than families. Our beach patrol will use their discretion and are using the ten-person recommendation as their guideline.
In response to the 213 people (and still counting) who emailed me last night, the Town has no plans and has had no discussion about “shutting the island” or restricting the services offered by the Kiawah Island Club and the Resort, such as take-out dining, golf courses or the operations of the Governors Club. We are aware that not all residents see this the same way. The Town’s stance is driven solely by the fact that their operations are in compliance with CDC and DHEC medical guidance and they are filling a need in the community.
At the same time, we ask these organizations to follow every guideline, ensure that the patrons of their services are following all social distancing and hygiene guidelines, and in close quarters limit groups to ten or less. They must recognize that they are a very visible part of the community and need to take steps to instill confidence that their activities are not sacrificing public safety.
Harris Teeter remains a concern because of its many patrons and the small size of the store. You should applaud the management and staff for their efforts to deal with this situation.
Nonetheless, we know there are challenges with practicing social distancing in this facility, and we will continue to work on strategies to alleviate the crowding. We also will announce a program with Vincent’s Pharmacy next week, which will provide a delivery option for essential medications for persons with medical issues that require them to stay isolated at home. The deliveries will be provided by CERT team members and Town staff. Please do not contact Vincent’s about this program until the Town releases additional information.
That’s it. I am sure I have forgotten something. Let me close by stressing that we must not become complacent because we are not aware of any cases of COVID-19 on Kiawah Island. Every projection we receive from DHEC suggests that we are several weeks from experiencing the peak level of cases in South Carolina. We will continue to review, reconsider, and moderate our actions accordingly.