By Craig Weaver for The Island Connection
As we all know, life on Kiawah has changed dramatically in recent days. Major recommendations and requirements of the governor and state health officials have been implemented by the different civic and commercial entities on Kiawah. This includes the cancellation of public meetings and events and the closure of restaurants and bars, except for takeout. Both the Town and Community Association are maintaining essential services but relying on reduced staff and online processes where possible.
We applaud the quick response of our on-island establishments and the actions they are taking to put in place alternative approaches to serve our residents.
To reinforce these actions and the recommendations of the governor, I will be asking the Town Council to approve a local Declaration of Emergency affecting Kiawah Island. The declaration is procedural and will speed up the processes for the Town to rapidly deploy or seek the necessary resources, actions or regulations to respond to COVID-19.
Kiawah is experiencing and will continue to experience the same challenge as other communities with the availability of food and supplies. Harris Teeter has reduced its hours to provide more time for restocking and ensuring the cleanliness of their facility. They are receiving new shipments, and we are discussing with them several actions to respond to these unique circumstances. “Over purchasing” of food and supplies is a serious concern, and we ask that everyone show consideration for your neighbors by limiting your purchases.
There has been discussion in the community about further limiting activity on the island. Based on current public health advice, we have no intention of arbitrarily restricting access or visitation to Kiawah Island. We fully expect to see diminished activity over the coming days
resulting from the most recent restrictions on public events, dining operations and relaxation of cancellation penalties.
Among the considerations, a majority of Kiawah homeowners live full-time somewhere besides Kiawah, but they or family members are here or likely to be traveling to Kiawah. Those property owners are an integral and welcomed part of our community. A number of hotel and rental occupants are also family members of residents who have come here during this time to be closer to family.
Nonetheless, we will work with the Resort and rental owners and managers to ensure that rental property managers and owners are closely monitoring their rentals, advising guests of appropriate conduct to follow during this medical emergency and ensuring that their guests understand and respect the health, safety and concerns of the broader community.
While recent actions may have lessened the opportunities for the introduction and transfer of this virus, the risk still continues. As this event has unfolded, the advice from health authorities has not changed: The two most important actions you can take to ensure your personal safety and the well-being of the entire Kiawah community are to practice social distancing and proper personal hygiene. Please be considerate and act responsibly toward the rest of the community by avoiding all unnecessary public contact and quickly seeking evaluation if you believe that you may have symptoms of COVID-19.
There are undoubtedly going to be new information, new questions and further actions over the coming days as this public health event takes its course. We will continue to seek out and follow the most current medical advice and adjust our guidance and public policy accordingly.
Mayor, Town of Kiawah Island