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Posted on: April 6, 2020

City of Beaufort Shelter in Place Ordinance FAQ

Q. What does the ordinance say? 

A. The ordinance directs residents to stay at home except for essential activities, for the duration of the City’s Emergency Declaration. Read ordinance here. If you are exhibiting ANY flulike symptoms, you MUST stay home (unless your doctor has approved you to visit Beaufort Memorial Hospital or other testing site or hospital). See COVID-19 symptoms here.

Q. Why did City Council pass this?

A. COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in Beaufort County. Our county has one of the highest per-capita rates of confirmed cases in the State of South Carolina. Council believes it’s important to reinforce through official language the absolute necessity of staying at home as much as possible.

Q. How does this fit in with what Gov. McMaster has declared?

A. This ordinance complies with all of Gov. McMaster’s executive orders.

Q. What are the penalties?

A. Code inspectors can issue a civil citation if they observe willful disregard of this ordinance.

Q. How long is this ordinance in place?

A. The ordinance is in place through April 30 but can be extended.


Q. Can I go to work?

A. If your employer’s business is still operating – meaning that Gov. McMaster has not closed it as being non-essential -- then you can leave your home to go to work. The City is urging all employers who are still open to allow as many of their employees as possible to work from home. Employers should ensure that any employees who are at work are separated by the six-feet social distance rule. See McMaster’s order on non-essential businesses here.


Q. Can I take my kids to daycare?

A. Many daycare centers have closed around the state, but they are considered essential businesses. If your daycare is still open, you can take your children there.

Q. Can I go out to pick up my child’s meals from the drop-off sites set up by Beaufort County School District?

A. Of course!


Q. Can I still go to the grocery store, etc.?

A. Grocery stores, hardware stores, and pharmacies are the primary retail operations that continue to be open as they are considered essential businesses. We are asking you to keep your shopping to a minimum, and to ask yourself before you go out if this trip is essential. If you do go out, please wear gloves if you have them, a mask if you have it, and bring wipes. (If you do not have gloves, plastic produce bags make handy mittens while shopping). Please observe social distancing at stores. If possible, have only one person per household make a shopping trip.


Q. Are you going to come after me if I am at a park or riding my bike on the Spanish Moss Trail?

A. No! We recognize that now, more than ever, individuals and families need to get out for fresh air and exercise. We have beautiful neighborhoods and neighborhood parks. Please observe social distancing when you see others on the sidewalks, parks, or trails. No more than three people should be in a group, except for immediate family.

Q. Can I meet friends for a picnic in the park?

A. No. That is not an essential activity. Also, all bathrooms in City parks are closed.

Q. Can I walk my dog?

A. Yes.

Q. Can I go out in my boat?

A. Public docks in the City of Beaufort are closed. If you have a private dock, and take your boat out, do not stop at the sandbar in the Beaufort River. The Department of Natural Resources is patrolling the river and will stop boaters from gathering. See McMaster’s executive order.


Q. Can I visit a family member or friend in the hospital?

A. Beaufort Memorial Hospital has greatly restricted visitor access to patients, even immediate family. All waiting rooms are closed to visitors. No visitors are allowed, except for maternity, pediatric, and end-of-life patients, but even those have restrictions.  See guidelines here.

Q. Can I leave the house to go to the doctor or dentist?

A. Many Beaufort Memorial primary care physicians have begun tele-health visits instead of office visits. Please call your doctor or dentist to get specific information – but if the appointment can wait, reschedule. BMH outpatient information.

Q. Can I take my pet to the vet?

A. If it’s an emergency, yes. If not, please wait.


Q. What help is there for the stress we are all experiencing?

A. Here are some resources:

South Carolina Department of Mental Health offers family support network calls several times a week. Find it here.

The CDC offers suggestions on managing stress during this time. Find it here.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers a resource guide. Find it here.


Q. If I see a group of people who appear not to be following social distancing guidelines, or observe other possible infractions, whom should I contact?

A. Please email Concerns will be prioritized and addressed as appropriate and as time allows.

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