Tybee In Limbo As Governor Considers 'New Options'

Apr 8, 2020
Originally published on April 8, 2020 8:57 am

Tybee Island was quiet Tuesday, four days into a standoff with Gov. Brian Kemp over the reopening of beaches. But local leaders were worried about what the holiday weekend will bring.


In an email to the Associated Press Tuesday, Kemp spokeswoman Candice Broce said the governor is “considering new options to help those communities” that have complained about the executive order that went into effect Friday.


Broce did not specify whether she specifically meant beach communities like Tybee and Glynn County, both of which have registered their opposition to reopening the beaches.


Beaches, which are owned by the state and under the jurisdiction of the Department of Natural Resources, are officially open. DNR has banned things like beach chairs and coolers that might encourage people to congregate in groups.


The city of Tybee, though, has left up the plywood barriers from when officials closed the beaches last month. They have been modified to read “Beach Crossover Closed.” The city announced Monday it would close the wooden crossover walkways that provide access to the beach, leaving just five vehicle access points open.


The parking lots along the beach, also managed by the city, remained blocked by large plastic barriers.


At the island’s lone grocery store, a small IGA, customers were lined up outside waiting to enter. Only ten were allowed to shop at a time.


The store was one concern Mayor Shirley Sessions raised Sunday, along with other surfaces people are likely to touch like parking machines and beach crossover railings.


“The biggest concern clearly is the people who are coming here from hot spots,” Sessions said, noting that she had seen license plates from New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Florida on the island. “And, you know, carriers who don’t know that they may have been exposed or that they are exposed and having them come here.”


Sessions feared that as neighboring states close their beaches, more visitors would travel to Georgia. That worry is only amplified by the upcoming Easter weekend, which is a long weekend or the start of spring break for many schools.


Tybee, which is home to two nursing homes and no hospitals, is already dealing with coronavirus cases. One local police officer has tested positive, and others have been quarantined as a result.

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