May 11, 2020
A Message from Mayor Weaver
Businesses are starting back up throughout South Carolina and Kiawah. Today limited indoor dining can resume, and at the end of the week, the Town’s short-term rental restrictions will elapse. I would expect the Governor to relax most remaining restrictions on businesses before the end of the month. Our local businesses will likely reopen as soon as each concludes they can confidently operate within the health and safety guidelines that have been established for customers and workers.The pace at which our local economy recovers may well be slower and will be driven by how soon the public feels ready and confident to resume shopping, dining, and traveling.
The restart of the economy here and nationally marks a change in the strategy for addressing this pandemic. For two months, the approach has been to minimize exposure and spread of the virus by restricting activity, with the government largely calling the shots. Going forward, the public and businesses will be primarily responsible for charting the direction forward and managing responsibly, and governments will be taking a supporting role.This health crisis is not over, but the focus may change from preventing exposure to COVID-19 at all costs, to quickly identifying and managing the spread of the virus when outbreaks and reoccurrences happen. Responsibility for managing our exposure to COVID-19 is largely returning entirely back to us.
Public health professionals continue to stress the two simple actions of social distancing and practicing personal hygiene.Those are still key to avoid this virus. They also advise that as the daily activity becomes more “normal” and avoiding exposure more difficult, some additional actions should be considered.
Reassess your personal health risks and act accordingly. More is being learned about who is most vulnerable to the most severe reactions to the virus. Many older, but healthy adults have fared well, while some younger persons with underlying health conditions have not. Consider what level of risk of exposure you can be comfortable taking and adjust your activity accordingly. While we would like to think that everyone around us is going to act safely and accommodate our desire for social distancing, don’t bet on it. Only you can decide whether it is okay to walk on the beach, head out to a restaurant, go to the gym, or attend a social event.
If you feel ill or have symptoms of COVID-19 virus, get tested immediately, and avoid public places until you get the results. According to health professionals, this may be the most important action going forward. With more activity, more social interaction, and more visitors in the community comes a greater risk of exposure, and we should expect that some of us will be exposed to this virus. Testing for the active virus is becoming much more available. From a community health perspective, we need you to seek medical advice and be tested if called for. This action will ensure that you can get the necessary medical care and also avoid the spread from you to family, friends, and the community.
Pay attention to the measures businesses are taking to protect your health and their worker’s health and take your cues from what you see. Businesses are reopening under an array of special health and safety guidelines created by industry and public health authorities. They are mostly guidelines, meaning they are voluntary. Where available, we will publish these guidelines on the Town’s website. If a business is not following capacity restrictions or implementing safety precautions for their customers or workers, consider going somewhere else. I am confident that there are plenty of responsible businesses on Kiawah that want to earn your business by following the best practices for ensuring your safety.
The Towns’ role in this crisis will diminish. We will continue to communicate information about the pandemic as we have, but this may be my final, personal communication on the subject. So, let me add a last thought. Maybe you are tired of being isolated, can’t wait to go shopping or have dinner out. Many of your friends and neighbors feel the same way. But some national surveys show that a narrow majority of the public remains concerned that these actions are occurring too quickly. Many on Kiawah are in that camp as well. Let’s remain considerate of those around us. Especially in public places, like the beach, bike paths, and in our businesses as well.
I’ll repeat what I said five paragraphs ago. The strategy for dealing with the pandemic will be different and has to be different. But this public health crisis is not over. Stay safe.