McMaster issues executive order reopening public boat landings, ramps

Updated: Apr. 16, 2020 at 11:24 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced Thursday that he was issuing an executive order to reopen public boat landings and ramps across the state.

According to the order, public landings will reopen statewide effective April 17 at 12 p.m. and are available for launching and/or retrieving boats by the public.

The revision specifies that public boat landings and associated parking areas can now be opened at the discretion of the local government or other managing authorities of those landings, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resource. The order also authorizes the managing authority of any public landing to close or otherwise restrict public access to that public boat ramp or landing if they determine that such action is necessary to preserve or protect public health.

The revision however does not change certain social distancing guidelines.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said that boats are limited to groups of no more than two people, with the exception of family members from the same household.

SCDNR added that beaching or rafting of boats, whether on a sandbar, lakeshore, riverbank or island is still prohibited. Boats must remain underway at all times unless critical circumstances exist or if boaters are anchoring to fish.

“If you are out with immediate family or people living with you that is great, but let’s not raft up. This isn’t the time to go set up on those sandbars and party,” said Robert McCullough with SCDNR. “There will be enough time for that in the summer. So, right now, we just want everyone to stay safe and enjoy the waterway without causing any health problems.”

McCullough said SCDNR crews will be out monitoring the waters and making sure that people are following the social distancing guidelines.

“We’re going to be out there working. We want people to be smart. Now is a dangerous time. We want people to be safe and we don’t want to be passing this disease on so the more we can socially distance the better,” McCullough said.

Piers, docks and wharfs remain closed. Also public beach accesses also remain closed.

The governor made the announcement during a public briefing on Thursday about the state’s response to the novel coronavirus.

“Watch your social distancing,” McMaster said just after announcing the reopening.

The ramps and landings were previously ordered closed to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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