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News Release

Important Notice on Community Events During COVID-19 From Hilton Head Island Town Manager Steve Riley

Release Date: March 13, 2020

Contact Information:
Carolyn Grant email icon , Communications Director, 843-341-4618

The health and well-being of our community is a top priority for the Town of Hilton Head Island. As we have watched the coronavirus situation, also known as COVID-19, unfold, we have taken steps and held discussions to address the spread of this disease, now described as a pandemic.

Therefore, in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Town's Senior Staff met earlier this week and considered the impact on our staff resources if Fire-Rescue crews, or other groups of staff, were sidelined by exposure to COVID-19. As we deliberated, we concluded that we have an obligation to shepherd our resources as best as we can so we are able to respond to and address public safety incidents over the long-term. Our first obligation is public safety and our ability to respond when someone dials 911. We also have a duty to maintain our public buildings, parks, beaches and other facilities for as long as we can.

As such, upon the recommendation of Staff and after conferring with Mayor John McCann and each member of our Town Council, I made the decision that we cannot presently commit additional resources of manpower and equipment to support special events. This includes assigning staff to support an event or prepositioning first responder resources like our bicycle-based mobile medical teams and our EMS ambulance cart.

State law does not give us the authority to cancel events and current guidance from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) states that events may continue to be held in communities where there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19. The Town made it clear to event organizers that we could not and would not cancel their events. Instead, they needed to make their own determination on whether to proceed or cancel, absent additional support services from the Town.

We also communicated that the Town remains committed to responding in a timely manner to any 911 call - at any location at any time. If an emergency occurs during an event or performance, our dedicated Fire-Rescue crews will respond.

Again, the health and well-being of our community is important. With advisories from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and DHEC, we feel it is best for us to do what we can to help curb the spread of the virus. We advise you, as well, to heed recommendations from the CDC and DHEC to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your surroundings.