Isle of Palms has joined neighboring Sullivan's Island in closing its playgrounds, parks, and tennis and basketball courts as efforts to slow the spread of the new coronavirus continue to expand.
"It seems like it changes every minute," said Isle of Palms Mayor Jimmy Carroll. "I've got some council members who would like to close the beach."
Just days ago, this past weekend, there were no virus-related restrictions on public places or private businesses on the islands, and some restaurants held early St. Patrick's Day parties.
On Monday, both islands closed their buildings to the public for non-emergency matters and recommended limiting public gatherings to no more than 50 people. By Wednesday morning, all restaurants and bars statewide had been ordered to cease dine-in service.
Sullivan's Island closed its playgrounds and playing courts Monday — a tough decision at a time when public schools are closed. Isle of Palms followed late Tuesday, Carroll said.
The concern is that the virus can linger on hard surfaces, such as playground equipment.
"You feel bad keeping people out," Sullivan's Island Mayor Patrick O'Neil said Wednesday. "Everyone is getting squirrely with the kids home from school."
"We're blessed that we have the beach right there," he said.
As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Charleston County Park and Recreation's Isle of Palms County Park remained open, along with other county parks and playgrounds.
Isle of Palms has a large vacation rental business, while Sullivan's Island — one of South Carolina's most expensive ZIP codes — skews toward owner-occupied homes.
Both are home to popular restaurants, all of which are now limited to take-out and delivery business.
"I'm really worried, looking in the paper today about restaurants laying people off left and right," he said. "The rental business is also hurting."