City of Charleston Coronavirus Updates

UPDATE: April 1, 2020, 6:30 p.m.:

Tonight, during an emergency meeting, Charleston City Council amended the city’s “Stay at Home” Ordinance to add Governor Henry McMaster’s most recent orders regarding the closure of “non-essential” businesses, venues, facilities, services, and activities; the requirement that out-of-state visitors from coronavirus “hotspots” self-quarantine and the closure of all public beaches, piers, docks, wharfs, boat ramps, and boat landings.

Additionally, the amendment made clear that the ordinance does not preempt or overrule any court order regarding an individual’s conduct, such as a domestic violence protection order, a child custody order or similar orders limiting an individual’s access to a particular place. 

The ordinance will remain in effect for 60 days from when it was enacted on March 16, 2020, or until repealed.


UPDATE: March 31, 2020, 7 p.m.:

The city of Charleston remains at OPCON 1 and continues to enforce the Stay at Home ordinance citywide.

Since last Friday, the city’s Livability Department has been working with the Charleston Fire Department to meet with local grocery stores and big-box retailers to provide guidance on social distancing and various protective measures that can be implemented.

To lessen the chances of COVID-19 spread in these environments, the city is now issuing the following four recommendations to retailers:

  1. Limit occupancy to 50% of that allowed by code
  2. Mark areas for appropriate customer separation at checkout lanes
  3. Designate each aisle as one-way to lessen cross-traffic and enable social distancing
  4. Provide hand sanitizer and/or wipes to all patrons

The Charleston Police Department is working with its regional partners to enforce Governor Henry McMaster’s executive order regarding the closure of public boat landings and water access points and has dispatched its marine patrol boats to aid this effort.

The city continues actively working to provide assistance to vulnerable members of the community who are unsheltered during this time. Portable handwashing stations have been set up in areas with high pedestrian traffic, and with the help of Charleston’s medical community, the city has developed and implemented a plan to provide meals, transportation and safe spaces for these individuals to quarantine while awaiting testing or test results, and to subsequently isolate in the event of a positive result.

Additionally, the city is working with Fetter Health Care Network and MUSC to increase their testing capacity and accessibility to better meet the needs of individuals who are unsheltered and who may lack access to reliable transportation.

At their meeting on Monday, April 6, Charleston City Council will consider an emergency ordinance authorizing public hearings before city boards, commissions and committees to be conducted virtually for a period of 60 days or until otherwise terminated.

The emergency ordinance can be viewed here: https://www.charleston-sc.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_04062020-5394

The April 6 meeting will also include a Citizens’ Participation Period. Citizens must provide comments by 4:00 p.m., Friday, April 3rd in one of the following forms:

  1. E-mail comments to publiccomments@charleston-sc.gov
  2. Leave a voice mail at 843-579-6313
  3. Mail comments to: Clerk of Council, 80 Broad Street, Charleston, SC 29401


UPDATE: March 30, 2020, 7:30 p.m.:

The city of Charleston continues to operate at OPCON 1 and the city’s Stay at Home ordinance remains in effect with non-essential businesses closed citywide.

In an effort to resume trash service (yard debris and bulk items such as furniture, appliances, bedding and other large objects) while maintaining proper safety protocols, the city’s Public Service department has put together a temporary plan to provide modified trash collection.

Beginning tomorrow, neighborhoods in outer West Ashley, serviced by Carolina Waste, will resume normal trash collection.

Next week, Johns Island and Daniel Island, which are serviced by Republic Waste, will resume normal trash collection.

Other areas of the city will transition back to normal trash collection after a special weekly pickup schedule in the month of April. During these weekly schedules, all citizens are asked to have their trash out on Monday, with the understanding that it will be collected at some point during the week as crews move throughout the area. The weekly schedules are as follows:

Over the week of April 5, city crews will collect in West Ashley, inside I-526. The following week of April 12, crews will collect on James Island. Then, during the week of April 19, crews will collect throughout the peninsula. Again, these schedules are weekly, so all citizens are asked to put their trash out on Monday of the appropriate week to ensure that it is collected.

In addition to these schedules, this week the one small truck that is currently available for trash collection is picking up excess debris where possible on the peninsula.

The City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs today formally announced that the Piccolo Spoleto program of ticketed events planned for May 22 to June 7 will not proceed as planned. Once updated venue and artist availability can be assessed, select performances might be rescheduled for presentation later in 2020, or for inclusion in the 2021 Piccolo Spoleto Festival.

Piccolo Spoleto’s outreach programming and free-to-attend series are being re-evaluated presently by Festival staff and its partners, including discussion of shifting some initiatives to digital platforms and possible rescheduling to future dates.

 Updates will be posted at www.piccolospoleto.com and on the Piccolo Spoleto Facebook Page. The 2021 Piccolo Spoleto Festival is scheduled for May 28 – June 13, 2021.


UPDATE: March 30, 2020, 11:45 a.m.:

The city of Charleston continues to operate at OPCON 1 and the city’s Stay at Home ordinance remains in effect with non-essential businesses closed citywide.

Over the weekend, Charleston Police Department continued their policy of measured enforcement of the stay at home ordinance, informing citizens about the law and reiterating that parks, public spaces and non-essential businesses are closed.

Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said, “Our measured enforcement approach to the Stay at Home ordinance seems to be having the desired effect. This weekend, traffic was down by more than 75% on our major thoroughfares, and among those who are out for recreation, we’re seeing much smaller groups with better social distancing. So, based on what we’re seeing, I’d say we’re trending in the right direction."

In addition to CPD efforts, the city’s Livability Department began working last week to contact large grocery and big box stores in the area to review city social distancing requirements.

"So far, the response has generally been positive, with many stores implementing social distancing policies and procedures that really work," said Livability Director Dan Riccio. "We plan to continue this outreach until all our store owners and managers understand the goals and requirements of the ordinance."

 An emergency meeting of Charleston City Council will take place virtually this evening at 5 p.m. Citizens can listen in by calling 1-929-205-6099 and entering access code: 925302562. The agenda for tonight’s meeting can be found here: https://www.charleston-sc.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_03302020-5389.


UPDATE: March 27, 2020, 5:15 p.m.:

The city of Charleston continues to operate at OPCON 1 with the stay at home ordinance in effect and non-essential businesses closed citywide.

Earlier today, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and Police Chief Luther Reynolds held a press conference to provide an update on the city’s continued efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases. To view video of the press conference on Facebook click here: https://www.facebook.com/CityCharleston/videos/148373079848031/.

Tonight, Charleston City Council will vote on an Emergency Ordinance to defer city hospitality taxes. The action would align with Gov. Henry McMaster’s tax deferral order of March 17, and provide more than a million dollars of immediate short-term relief to some of the hardest-hit small and locally-owned businesses in Charleston’s hospitality sector.

Next week, green garbage bins will continue to be collected on schedule, as collection of yard debris and bulk items such as furniture, appliances, bedding and other large objects remains temporarily suspended. Next week, the city expects to finalize and announce a plan to resume trash pickup while preserving the safety measures now in place.

The city of Charleston Business and Neighborhood Services division today released a website to connect citizens and businesses with local resources: charleston-sc.gov/covid19resourcelist. It features information on essential resources, business support services, recreation and educational resources as well as ways that citizens and businesses can help others in need.

The city has created a dashboard that shows the latest DHEC test result numbers and features a map of area hospitals and testing sites. The dashboard can be viewed here: https://maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/c3ecd3c3231a476390b9f07b82fd2619.


UPDATE: March 27, 2020, 2:30 p.m.:

Today, city of Charleston Corporation Counsel Susan Herdina released the following statement with regard to the SC Attorney General Office’s opinion on home rule and emergency authority:

"The city appreciates the strong support for the principle of Home Rule voiced in today’s AG Office’s opinion, and believes that principle extends to emergency ordinances to protect the health and safety of our citizens. In addition, city leaders and staff have worked diligently to ensure that our current emergency ordinances directly support and codify the orders issued by Governor McMaster during this crisis."


UPDATE: March 26, 2020, 7:15 p.m.:

The city of Charleston continues to operate at OPCON 1 with the stay at home ordinance in effect and non-essential businesses closed citywide.

The Community Development Committee and Charleston City Council met today and approved an emergency ordinance to reallocate $40,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding to provide public services and temporary living quarters for those who are homeless and/or vulnerable and are required to self-isolate or self-quarantine due to COVID-19.

The emergency ordinance can be viewed here: https://www.charleston-sc.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_03262020-5386

The city of Charleston’s Essential Business Review Committee also met today to review applications received from local businesses that would like to be considered essential services. The committee, comprised of staff members from the city’s Legal and Emergency Management departments, will continue to meet daily.

An updated list of essential businesses exempt from the stay at home ordinance is available on the city’s website, here: https://www.charleston-sc.gov/DocumentCenter/View/26251/Emergency-Ordinance-Stay-at-Home

All businesses that would like to be considered for the essential services list must submit an application by 9 a.m., Monday, March 30. The application can be found here: https://www.charleston-sc.gov/FormCenter/Corporation-Counsel-7/Essential-Business-Review-Application-94.


UPDATE: March 25, 2020, 6:55 p.m.:

In response to the stay at home ordinance passed by Charleston City Council last night, the city has received a number of questions regarding the closure of non-essential businesses.

In order to provide guidance, the city’s Legal Department has released a sample list of businesses that would be considered nonessential under the emergency ordinance. The list includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Retail stores and shopping malls (except as exempted by the ordinance)
  • Fitness centers, including yoga, barre and cycling facilities
  • Entertainment facilities including, but not limited to:
    • Music venues
    • Theaters
    • Museums
    • Movie theaters
  • Arts and crafts businesses
  • Dance schools
  • Recreation and indoor sports facilities including, but not limited to:
    • Ice skating rinks
    • Bowling alleys
    • Trampoline parks
  • Sporting event venues, including golf courses
  • Barber shops and hair salons
  • Day spas
  • Tattoo and body piercing shops
  • Private clubs (except for the provision of food for take-out and/or delivery)

This list may be modified as necessary for the health, safety and welfare of the city of Charleston. An updated version can be found on the city’s website at: https://www.charleston-sc.gov/2410/27243/Guidance-on-Stay-at-Home-Ordinance.

In addition to defining essential services, the ordinance allows changes to the essential businesses list as appropriate.

The process for businesses to request to be included among the essential businesses list is as follows:

Businesses that believe they should be considered essential are asked to fill out the Essential Business Review Application on the city website. Applications will be reviewed daily by a committee made up of staff members from the city’s Legal and Emergency Management departments. The Review Committee will then forward recommendations to the mayor based on criteria established by the Department of Homeland Security.

To view the application, visit: https://www.charleston-sc.gov/FormCenter/Corporation-Counsel-7/Essential-Business-Review-Application-94.


UPDATE: March 24, 2020, 2:30 p.m.:

Today, at a 2:30 p.m. press conference, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg gave the following remarks regarding the city’s continued efforts to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19:

Good afternoon.

For the past several weeks, governments and residents across our state have been working to slow the onset of the coronavirus pandemic here in South Carolina. 

Schools and city public buildings have been closed. Bars and restaurants have stopped serving onsite. Large gatherings have been banned, and citizens have been urged to stay home, stay distanced and stay smart.

But with yesterday’s announcement that the Covid-19 pandemic has officially reached the acceleration phase in our our state, we must now take even more dramatic action, while there’s still time to save thousands of lives right here in Charleston by flattening the curve.

That’s why, in light of the large gatherings we’ve seen in public spaces both here and around the country, I’ve today ordered the temporary closure of all city parks and playgrounds. 

And it’s why I will tonight introduce a citywide stay at home ordinance for emergency action by our City Council. 

Put simply, this ordinance would require the closure of non-essential businesses here in the city of Charleston, and direct our citizens to stay at home, except for necessary trips to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or for other essential services and activities. This action would last for a period of 14 days, and would be taken under the city’s broad emergency authority to protect public health and safety during times of emergency.

But before we take that step, I believe we owe our citizens and business owners a clear explanation of the facts that make this emergency action necessary.

 First, there’s the fact that our state public health agency, DHEC, has now officially told us that the coronavirus pandemic is in the acceleration phase in our state. This means that there is significant community spread, and that we’ve entered the period of maximum danger for our citizens, with infection rates and deaths due to this disease set to rise exponentially.

 Second, there’s the simple fact of population density. Three of the four largest cities in our state sit side by side here in the Lowcountry, with a total population in the hundreds of thousands. We cannot and must not allow this deadly, highly contagious disease to spread uncontrolled among our residents.

 And, finally, there are the numbers with regard to the disease itself. Modeling at both Columbia University and here locally shows that Charleston is facing thousands of deaths -- most of them unnecessary -- if we don’t stop the spread of this virus and prevent our local hospital system from being overwhelmed right now. This moment -- with the pandemic still in the earliest part of the acceleration phase -- is our last, best chance to keep that tragedy from happening here in our city.

 Fellow Charlestonians, yes, the days ahead may be long. They may call for a level of service to others that’s uncommon in our age.

 But if a lifetime in Charleston has taught me anything, it is this: There is no challenge that we cannot face together. There is no trial that can break our faith. There is no pathogen that can lessen our love for our families, our friends, or our fellow Charlestonians.

 We can and will bend the curve on this disease in our community. And we will do it the way we do everything here in Charleston: We’ll do it together.


UPDATE: March 23, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

The city of Charleston continues to operate at OPCON 1, with city buildings closed to the public and employees transitioning to working from home. Those who are unable to telecommute are now working in alternating A and B teams in order to protect the city’s ability to provide essential services, while reducing risk for the employees themselves.

While city parks remain open for responsible use, this week citizens will see an increased city presence to ensure proper social distancing is taking place.

The city has received a number of questions regarding the suspension of trash collection. To clarify, green garbage bins of household waste will be picked up as normal. Yard debris and bulk items such as furniture, appliances, bedding and other large objects will not be collected this week.

This temporary action is being taken in order to make trash collectors available to serve as alternate garbage collectors in the A/B scheduling system described above.

 As a reminder, the regularly scheduled meetings of the Ways and Means Committee and Charleston City Council will take place virtually, rather than at City Hall. Both meetings will be streamed live on the city’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxDws_o-1voXBNOAZ17gZxw/videos?view=2. Alternately, the public can call and listen to the meetings by dialing 1-929-205-6099; access code: 225906695. The meeting agendas can be viewed here: https://www.charleston-sc.gov/AgendaCenter.


UPDATE: March 22, 2020, 4 p.m.

Today, at a 4 p.m. press conference with representatives from Charleston County, the City of North Charleston and the Town of Mount Pleasant Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg gave the following remarks:

With the coronavirus now aggressively spreading across our state and region, we’re here today with a simple message for our citizens -- stay home, stay distanced and stay smart.

Doctors tell us that the uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 would be nothing less than a death sentence for thousands of our friends and family members right here in the Lowcountry. And the only way to avoid that tragedy is for all of us to start following those three simple rules right now. 

Number one, stay home -- and that means just what it says. If you don’t have an essential reason to go out, don’t go out. The life you save by avoiding that unnecessary trip could turn out to be yours or one of your loved ones. And as difficult as this is to say to our already suffering business owners, you as citizens have a critical role to play, too: If your business is not truly essential during this time, temporarily closing your doors or having your employees work from home now is a hard choice to make -- but it’s infinitely better than the economic and social devastation that you and the rest of us will suffer if this virus gets out of control in our area.

Number two, stay distanced. Practicing good social distancing when we have to go out for essential trips to the grocery store or the pharmacy is the best medicine we have to protect ourselves and each other.

And finally, number three, stay smart. Wash your hands. Don’t buy all the toilet paper at the grocery store. Don’t believe every crazy Facebook rumor that’s floating around. And whatever you do, don’t go out if you have a cough and fever. That’s when you have to self-quarantine immediately and go to MUSC’s telehealth website at musc.care to get into the system for testing.

The choice facing our community today is simple. 

If we follow these rules right now -- if we stay home, stay distanced and stay smart -- we can still avoid being a hotspot, like Italy or New York. 

And if we don’t follow these rules, we can spend the next few months watching funerals online -- literally, thousands of funerals -- because we won’t be able to gather together even to say goodbye to our loved ones. 

We’re here today to ask our citizens to follow these rules and choose life.

The power is in all of our hands.


UPDATE: March 20, 2020, 8 p.m.

Effective at 5 p.m. today, the city of Charleston shifted to OPCON-1 and closed all remaining offices and facilities, including recreation centers, to the public. 

Many city staff members will transition to working remotely effective Monday, with departments unable to telecommute dividing crews into A and B teams that will alternate workweeks, so as to reduce contact with other city staff. 

The Police and Fire Departments will continue to operate normally, with enhanced safety protocols, in order to preserve public safety.

Beginning on Monday, and for the duration of the week, trash collection will be suspended citywide, in order to make additional crews available to operate the A/B schedule for garbage collection. This suspension applies to the city of Charleston as whole, including areas serviced by contractors (Daniel Island, Cainhoy, Outer West Ashley and Johns Island). 

Citizens are asked to remove any existing curbside yard debris and bulk/miscellaneous items and to refrain from placing these materials at the curb until collection resumes.

While using public spaces, citizens are encouraged to observe the following National Recreation and Park Association recommendations:

  • Refrain from using parks or trails if exhibiting symptoms.
  • Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to and during use of parks or trails.
  • Prepare for limited access to public restrooms or water fountains.
  • While on trails, warn other users of their presence and as they pass, and step aside to let others pass.
  • Follow CDC guidance on the recommended size of social gatherings including outdoor picnicking, pick-up sports and other group hangouts, and maintain proper physical distance at all times.
  • Observe CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of 6 feet from other individuals at all times. If this is not possible, users should find an alternate location or depart that space.

At an emergency meeting, Charleston City Council passed an emergency ordinance to suspend both the accrual of city business license late fees and the enforcement the city’s code pertaining to environmentally acceptable packaging and products (plastic bag ban) for 60 days. Additionally, the ordinance extends the expiration date for chauffer’s licenses issued between March 18, 2019 and April 1, 2019.

Today, the city began implementing temporary curbside parking relief zones to provide support for local businesses that are fulfilling curbside pickup and delivery orders in lieu of dine-in service. The temporary pickup zones will be clearly marked with “Temporary Curbside Parking” signs, which will be in place by tomorrow morning. 

Most of the zones are being implemented where there are currently loading zones, on-street metered parking or time-restricted parking. These spaces are free for use by restaurant employees, delivery drivers and curbside pickup patrons while fulfilling orders to enable an efficient flow of business. A map of the zone locations is available here: www.charleston-sc.gov/curbside-parking-relief.

Decision-making regarding the selection of these temporary zones is ongoing, based on the number of businesses providing these services, the physical restrictions that may exist, and the availability of city resources. Businesses and organizations are encouraged to provide feedback about zone locations, including requests to add or move temporary curbside pickup zones, at curbside@charleston-sc.gov

In order to ensure that SC Chief Justice Don Beatty’s order halting all evictions statewide is followed here in Charleston, the city has established an on-call magistrate to intervene should any illegal evictions be attempted.

The city is currently working with the Small Business Administration and City Council to make low-interest disaster loans available to help small businesses overcome this temporary loss of revenue and survive this extraordinarily difficult time. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.

Applicants can apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at disasterloan.sba.gov. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on available SBA disaster assistance. The deadline to apply is Dec. 21, 2020.


UPDATE: March 20, 2020, 5:30 p.m.

At a press conference today, Mayor John Tecklenburg made the following statement on the city’s efforts related to COVID-19:

Since the threat of the coronavirus first became clear in China and later in Europe, the city of Charleston has taken a number of steps to prepare and to help keep our employees and citizens safe – our #1 priority.

A significant part of that effort has been closing down public facilities, including the City Market, Dock Street Theatre, Old Slave Mart Museum and more, postponing public meetings and limiting public gatherings in accordance with recommendations from our medical community and the CDC. 

In order to further reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, we suspended all instructor-led Recreation Department programs and classes, including youth and adult sports, and closed the doors to our senior centers. Additionally, we suspended all city permitted tours until further notice.

Charleston City Council has begun holding daily emergency meetings by telephone to receive updates from Emergency Management on the city’s efforts to mitigate impacts and to ensure continued city operations in a safe environment.

I want to assure everyone that our Police and Fire Departments will continue to operate as normal, with enhanced safety protocols, in order to preserve public safety.

And, now, effective at 5 p.m. today, the city will close all remaining offices and indoor recreation facilities to the public. We will continue to provide services to citizens while taking every possible precaution with regard to public health and safety.

For many of our employees, as we continue to strongly urge everyone to practice social distancing, this next step will necessitate a transition to working from home. 

Some departments for which telecommuting is less feasible, such as Livability and Tourism, Parks, Public Service, and others, will divide crews into teams that will alternate workweeks, so as to reduce contact with other city staff and the public.

Beginning on Monday, for the duration of the week, bulk trash/debris collection will be suspended citywide, in order to make additional crews available to assist with garbage collection. This suspension applies to the city of Charleston as whole, including areas serviced by contractors (Daniel Island, Cainhoy, Outer West Ashley and Johns Island).

Citizens are asked to remove any existing curbside yard debris and bulk/miscellaneous items and to refrain from placing these materials at the curb until collection resumes. So, green cans will be picked up next week, not bulk debris.

To ensure that essential city functions remain in operation during this unprecedented time, some employees may even be temporarily reassigned to positions and departments other than their own.

From an economic standpoint, our number one concern right now is for all our citizens who are suddenly losing their jobs and fighting to save their businesses as a result of this crisis.

To assist those who are feeling the economic effects most, the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce has created a new online hub (dew.sc.gov/covid-hub) where workers whose employment was affected by COVID-19 can go to have their questions answered, learn about ways they can help their employees, or find information on unemployment benefits.

Additionally, the city is currently working with the Small Business Administration and City Council to make low-interest disaster loans available to help small businesses overcome this temporary loss of revenue and survive this extraordinarily difficult time. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.

Applicants can apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at disasterloan.sba.gov. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on available SBA disaster assistance. The deadline to apply is Dec. 21, 2020.

There’s no question that these are challenging times for us here in Charleston and for those around the world. As we continue working with our local partners to slow the spread of this virus and keep our community safe and healthy, what we need most are two things that, fortunately, our citizens have in abundance here in Charleston: common sense and the desire to be a good neighbor.

And with that in mind, I’d like to make three requests of our citizens today:

1. Stay home and limit trips to only those that are essential in order to reduce the spread of this virus.

2. If you develop the symptoms – cough and fever – self-quarantine immediately and go to MUSC’s telehealth website (musc.care) to register and get in their system for testing.

3. Under the heading of being a good neighbor, please, don’t hoard groceries and other household supplies. There is plenty to go around, as long as we buy only what we need and continue to look out for one another.

As always, the health and safety of the citizens of Charleston remains our number one priority. I ask that you all continue to be smart and do your part to help flatten the curve by staying home and helping to spread that message on social media by using the hashtag #FlattenTheCurveSC.

And finally, I must take a moment to commend the remarkable men and women in our community – the many healthcare workers, grocery store employees, cops, firefighters, and more – who continue going to work every day to protect our citizens and help our city through these unprecedented times. We owe you a great debt of gratitude and truly couldn’t do this without you. Thank you.


UPDATE: March 19, 2020, 7:15 p.m.

Tonight, at an emergency meeting, Charleston City Council voted to amend the city’s emergency ordinance regarding gatherings to align with Governor Henry McMaster’s guidelines for bars and restaurants and to limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people, in accordance with current CDC guidelines. View the ordinance here: https://www.charleston-sc.gov/DocumentCenter/View/26214/gathering-ordinance-final-proposed-amendments-final.


UPDATE: March 18, 2020, 6:45 p.m.

The city of Charleston remains at OPCON 2, with modified operations designed to limit in-person contact.

According to SC DHEC, there are now 60 positive cases of coronavirus in South Carolina, four of which tested positive in Charleston County. For the latest on testing and monitoring in South Carolina, visit https://www.scdhec.gov/monitoring-testing-covid-19.

In order to reduce the risk of Coronavirus transmission in the city of Charleston, at noon today, all city permitted tours were suspended until further notice. This action was taken to create more social distancing, and is consistent with the goal of limiting group size on city streets, sidewalks and other common public areas.

Beginning tomorrow, the Charleston City Market and all other city of Charleston special facilities--Angel Oak, Cannon Street Arts Center, Dock Street Theatre, Maritime Center, Old Exchange Building and Old Slave Mart Museum--will be closed to the public. 

Charleston City Council met at 5:30 p.m. this evening and received updates from Emergency Management on the city’s efforts to mitigate impacts and to ensure continued city operations in a safe environment. Council will continue to meet daily at 5:30 p.m. by phone for updates.


UPDATE: March 18, 2020, 11:30 a.m.

In order to reduce the risk of Coronavirus transmission in the city of Charleston, all city permitted tours will be suspended until further notice, beginning at noon today. This action is being taken to create more social distancing, and is consistent with the goal of limiting group size on city streets, sidewalks and other common public areas.


UPDATE: March 17, 2020, 8:30 p.m.

The city of Charleston remains at OPCON 2, with modified operations designed to limit in-person contact.

According to SC DHEC, there are now 47 positive cases of coronavirus in South Carolina, three of which tested positive in Charleston County. For the latest on testing and monitoring in South Carolina, visit https://www.scdhec.gov/monitoring-testing-covid-19.

Charleston City Council met at 5:30 p.m. this evening and received updates from Emergency Management on the city’s efforts to mitigate impacts and to ensure continued city operations in a safe environment. Council will continue to meet daily at 5:30 p.m. by phone for updates.

At a separate meeting earlier in the day, County and City officials agreed to defer collection of accommodations and hospitality taxes for 90 days.

Municipal Court jury and bench trials have been postponed. For details, please visit the Municipal Court website here: https://www.charleston-sc.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=807

There will be a telephonic emergency Public Safety Committee meeting tomorrow, March 18 at 2 p.m. to discuss the implementation of the Emergency Ordinances put into effect on March 16 related to COVID-19. The dial-in is: 1-800-747-5150; access code: 7243729#.


UPDATE: March 17, 2020, 5 a.m.

The city of Charleston continues to operate at OPCON 2, indicating a state of modified operations intended to limit person-to-person contact.

Charleston City Council met telephonically on March 16, 2020, to receive an update on the city’s response to the coronavirus. During the meeting, City Council approved a state of emergency declaration, as well as a set of three emergency ordinances with regard to COVID-19.

The first ordinance prohibits price gouging in the city of Charleston.

The second ordinance prohibits gatherings of 50 or more people in public, indoor, social gathering establishments. It does not apply to non-social public establishments, such as grocery stores or private offices, though the city still strongly recommends social distancing in those environments.

The third ordinance enables City Council, Ways and Means and Standing Committee meetings to be conducted telephonically, by video conference or other virtual means.

The emergency ordinances will remain in effect for 60 days, or until the state of emergency is terminated.


UPDATE: March 16, 2020, 9:45 a.m.

At an emergency telephonic City Council meeting at 2 p.m. today, Council will be briefed on city actions to date and consider a State of Emergency declaration. The call in number for the meeting is 1-800-747-5150; access code: 7243729#.

Following the meeting, at 3 p.m., Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and MUSC President Dr. David Cole will hold a press conference at Washington Square, located behind City Hall at 80 Broad Street.

Currently, city officials and staff are taking the following additional steps to protect public safety and slow the spread of the coronavirus in our area.

All public meetings have been canceled through the end of the month. Essential meetings will be rescheduled as needed with technology and social distancing practices that protect participants and the general public.

Public performances and gallery showings have been canceled in all city facilities through March 31.

All instructor led Recreation Department programs and classes, including youth and adult sports programs, have been suspended. Consistent with CDC guidelines, citizens are discouraged from gathering in groups of 50 or more in city parks and playgrounds.

City senior centers are closed.

Beginning at noon today, the city’s Permit Center will be closed to the general public. Many permits can be submitted online through the Citizen Access Portal (CAP), https://www.charleston-sc.gov/cap. For permit types not yet configured in CAP, permit applications can be submitted digitally to permits@charleston-sc.gov

At this time, there will be no inspections of occupied structures. Inspections for unoccupied structures will continue as normal.

City departments are implementing work-from-home policies that allow city services to continue.

City Police, Fire and Sanitation have implemented enhanced safety protocols and prepared continuity of operations plans in case they are forced to maintain operations with a reduced workforce.

Mayor Tecklenburg said, “The health and public safety of our citizens and employees are always our priority. This virus is known to be very contagious and taking these social distancing measures is essential to mitigating the spread in our community.”


UPDATE: March 13, 2020, 6 p.m.

The city of Charleston today announced the postponement of the upcoming Trust and Security Community Summit, sponsored by the city and Mayor’s Clergy Advisory Council, which was scheduled to take place at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, March 16, 2020 at Greater St. Luke AME Church. A new date will be announced as soon as possible.

Those with questions about this event can contact Mike Whack at whackm@charleston-sc.gov or 843-990-3470.

Starting Saturday, March 14, Charleston Stage performances at the Dock Street Theater will be suspended through at least March 31.

Additionally, the Charleston Gaillard Center’s Board and Management Team today announced their decision to close the Martha and John M. Rivers Performance Hall to large gatherings through April 16, 2020.

Based on this announcement, the following events have been canceled:

  • Charleston Symphony Orchestra’s Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony on March 27 and 28
  • MasterChef Junior Live! on March 29
  • The Play That Goes Wrong on March 31
  • Philharmonix on April 14

At this time, all performances set to occur after April 16, 2020 remain scheduled. Gaillard Center and city officials will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves and will make adjustments as needed.

All other city events and meetings are under active review and more announcements are expected over the coming days.


UPDATE: March 10, 2020, 3 p.m.

City of Charleston Emergency Management Director Shannon Scaff will address Charleston City Council tonight to provide an update on the city’s coronavirus preparations. Among the steps he’ll be discussing are the following:

Joint Federal, State and Local Planning Efforts:

  • Mayor John Tecklenburg and city of Charleston leaders remain in close communication with federal, state and regional officials including representatives of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the U.S. Coast Guard and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) on the situation related to the coronavirus.
  • The city’s Emergency Management team, along with area emergency managers including MUSC, are meeting regularly to align efforts across jurisdictions. 
  • Additionally, the city has established an area stakeholders subcommittee of the Health and Wellness Committee with representatives from Medical University of South Carolina, area public and private schools and special events coordinators.
  • At a press conference yesterday, Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist for the state public health agency, SC DHEC stated, “There’s no reason, at this time, to cancel any public events or take any special measures, when there is no evidence of ongoing spread in a community.” However, the city continues to consult with DHEC and area medical leaders with regard to the continuation or cancellation of all public events.
  • The Port of Charleston is a state port and is governed by the state of South Carolina. While the city of Charleston has no legal authority over cruise ship landings or departures, emergency management has been in close contact with the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and been assured that these agencies are monitoring cruise ships arriving in the Port of Charleston and have the responsibility to take appropriate steps with regard to public safety. They receive detailed passenger and crew member information, including full travel histories, prior to all ships’ arrivals in Charleston and are actively monitoring for potential coronavirus exposures. 

Citywide Preparations:

  • The city has focused its efforts externally and internally to ensure continuity of operations. 
  • Charleston Police and Fire have each created contingency plans to ensure public safety is maintained at all times, even if staffing levels are reduced significantly due to illness or quarantine. 
  • Health and safety information has been posted and hand sanitizer is now available in all city buildings and workspaces. In total, 900 bottles of hand sanitizer have been ordered for use in city vehicles and shared areas.
  • Custodians have been instructed to disinfect shared common surfaces like door knobs, counters, refrigerator handles, microwaves, water fountains, vending machines, etc.
  • Additional personal protective equipment supplies have been ordered for first responders. 
  • Employee work related travel has been limited only to absolutely essential travel. 
  • Sick employees, board members and citizens are asked to remain at home and not attend public meetings to conduct city business.
  • When possible, staff has been asked to conduct meetings via phone or other technologies where it makes sense to reduce in person meetings.
  • Reviewing Human Resources and Payroll policies regarding those things, including sick leave.

City Protocols to Ensure Citizen Services:

  • The safety and health of employees and citizens are the first consideration in planning for continued operations.
  • Essential operations are being identified that must be performed under all conditions by department.  Examples of essential operations would include: public safety (police, fire and emergency management), garbage and sanitation services, payroll, accounts payable and network operations.  
  • Essential personnel and tools and support needed to perform their duties are being identified.
  • Proactive measures to be taken within workspaces to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus by implementing preventative measures have been outlined.

Ongoing Efforts:

  • Continue review of city processes, policies and procedures to reflect all current recommendations and best practices.
  • Implementation of responsible public health measures based on circumstances and the recommendations of SC DHEC and area medical professionals.
  • Provide reliable COVID-19 resources to citizens via the city’s website at www.charleston-sc.gov/COVID-19.
  • City leaders will remain in close contact with federal, state, local and medical partners to plan and execute next steps as the situation continues to evolve.