Curfew nears; councils consider COVID options

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     A curfew effective at 10 tonight for unincorporated areas of Columbus County is an effort to “do what is best for our citizens during these trying times,” County Manager Mike Stephens said in an e-mailed statement today.

     Responding to the challenges facing everyone as the coronavirus COVID-19 marches across America also has local government leaders looking for ways to meet while keeping themselves and the public safe.

     This post will cover these topics and will be updated:

  • Curfew “for trying times” begins tonight in Columbus
  • Loris Council cancels, Tabor’s meet will be different
  • School board opts for virtual meet
  • Coast RTA drops fairs, encourages distancing

Curfew “for trying times” begins tonight in Columbus

     County Commissioners Board Chairman Edwin Russ ordered the 10 p.m. through 5 a.m. curfew Monday, effective tonight, in addition to closing a number of public facilities including playgrounds, golf courses and public gardens; and closing hotels, motels, campgrounds and other short term lodging establishments to most new customers.

     Stephens Wednesday said the order, reached in consultation with commissioners, came at the request of Sheriff Jody Greene as the country “is in the middle of crisis like no other we have seen in our lives.

     “My job is to work with all of our county departments and our county commissioners to do what is best for our citizens during these trying times,” Stephens’ statement said. “At the request of the Sheriff, the county commissioners and I made the decision to impose a curfew beginning today at 10 p.m. We encourage our citizens to abide by the curfew that will be enforced by Sheriff Greene and his officers.

     “The county commissioners and I are committed to working with all agencies and departments at all times to do what is best for the citizens of our county.”

Loris Council cancels, Tabor’s meet will be different

     Limiting the size of gatherings while maintaining state and federal social distancing recommendations and regulations has local governments making decisions on when, and how to meet.

     Loris City Council on Wednesday canceled its scheduled April 6 meeting “due to the current COVID-19 pandemic,” a news release said. “We are researching options available to conduct future meetings should this continue beyond April. Many prayers for everyone during these uncertain times.”

     Tabor City Council, Town Manager Al Leonard said this week, is moving forward with its scheduled April 14 meeting at The Ritz Center.

     Leonard said round tables will be set up throughout the building, with a single council member or staff member at each table in order to keep everyone at least six feet apart from each other.

     “There is business that is pressing, with deadlines, so we really need to meet,” Leonard said.

     While the meeting is open to the public, Leonard said it will be brief, and that attendance would be limited if necessary to meet health and safety mandates due to the COVID-19 crisis.

School board opts for virtual meet

     Columbus County Board of Education members will be meeting by video conference on April 6, scrapping plans to meet in the cafeteria at East Columbus High School in an effort to maintain social distancing while taking care of necessary business.

     Supt. Deanne Meadows announced the change Wednesday. That meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Those who wish to view the meeting should email bpridgen@columbus.k12.nc.us.

Coast RTA drops fares, encourages distancing

     Horry County’s public transportation provider, is making changes effective April 2 “to continue fixed route and paratransit services and further our efforts for social distancing on our buses,” a news release said.

     Passengers will pay no fares, and will be asked “to enter and exit through the rear door of buses when available,” the news release said. “We will also be limiting seating at the front of the buses to ensure social distancing between passengers and operators.

     “Passengers in wheelchairs and those using mobility devices will still be able to board via the ramp at the front of the bus. The first rows of seats behind the operator shall be vacant and clearly taped off but there will still be positions available to secure wheelchairs and other mobility devices.

     “We encourage all passengers to only use our services for essential purposes and to NOT use public transit if they are not feeling well or if someone in their household or inner circle is ill.

     “Coast RTA will continue to use our social media outlets, our website ridecoastrta.com, and the Coast RTA Ridetracker App to deliver updates to the riding public. We have posted the updated schedules in our bus and online.

     “Customers can also call our Customer Service Department at 488-0865.”

Updates

     Look for continuing coverage on local impacts from the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak here and in the Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.