County Closes Sea Island Beaches


At this morning's emergency meeting of the county commission, a motion was immediately advanced by Islands Commissioner Dr. Peter Murphy to close the beaches as Sea Island. Discussion was generally supportive of the motion, with Commissioner Alan Booker supporting it while noting he continues to advocate for a full shelter in place order for the county.

When the commission was about to vote on the matter, county attorney Aaron Mumford volunteered a draft of a comprehensive resolution covering several possible topics, but Commission Chairman Mike Browning opted to instead address issues a la carte.

The vote to close the Sea Island beaches was unanimous and was effective immediately, effective until the county re-opens all beaches and loosens restrictions on the county.

County Manager Alan Ours made the suggestion to the commission that they extend the current re-opening date for the county to be extended from April 13th to April 30th, referring to a discussion with health officials that the outbreak of COVID-19 will be peaking in the next several weeks.Commissioner Booker voiced no objection to the extension, but once again reiterated that he didn't feel the measures were enough.

The vote to extend the dates to April 30th was also unanimous.

The issue of short-term rentals was brought up. Chairman Browning said, "We have a concern that people from hotspots are coming to this community [and renting property]."

Commissioner Neal expressed the support of the rental industry in the area. Commissioner Murphy asked what the geographic area covered was, as he was concerned about First Responders traveling the Interstate to hotspots having to stop over. Murphy made the motion to shut down the short-term rentals on St Simons and Sea Island, bed and breakfast, hotels and motels, with exceptions for first responders and essential personnel. Attorney Mumford referred the commissioners to the draft resolution again, as he felt it included more clearly-defined closings and exceptions than a motion that is being put together at the table. Commissioner Neal felt uncomfortable voting for something that hadn't been read in advance, so Mumford was asked to present what had been written in advance. Murphy asked Mumford to add the members of the St Simons Sound Response Team to the list of essential lodgers on his draft resolution. The resolution discussed only applied to St Simons and Sea Island, not the mainland.

The vote on the resolution was unanimous, 6-0, with Commissioner Coleman's internet connection having failed for the vote.

The commission also agreed to put up signage around the area reminding people to engage in social distancing.

To allay concerns, there was no agreement on a curfew and there will continue to be none in Glynn.