SC Governor closes lake-related recreational facilities effective immediately

At 6:30 p.m. last night, March 30, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued Executive Order 2020-16 ordering the closure of all public boat ramps, landings and other access points on the state's lakes, rivers and waterways. Vessels must remain underway at all times unless exigent circumstances exist. Anchoring to fish is allowed; however, rafting is prohibited under all circumstance

“As a result of behavior observed this past weekend by the Department of Natural Resources and SLED, it has become necessary to close public access to our state’s beaches, and close boat ramps and landings on our state’s lakes, rivers and waterways,” he said in a Facebook post, “This is unfortunate for those who chose to responsibly follow the instructions of our public health officials, but a necessary action to prevent the spread of the COVID 19 virus.”


"I hereby order and direct that any and all public piers, docks, wharfs, boat ramps, and boat landings providing public access to the public waters of this State, to include any adjacent or associated public parking lots or other public facilities, shall be closed to public access for recreational purposes for the duration of the State of Emergency,” the order reads. “I further direct that the beaching or rafting of boats, whether on a sandbar, lakeshore, riverbank, or island, is prohibited for the duration of the State of Emergency. Vessels must remain underway at all times unless exigent circumstances exist. Anchoring to fish is allowed; however, rafting is prohibited under all circumstances. This Section does not apply to individuals possessing a current, valid commercial fishing license or permit to the extent such individuals may seek to utilize or rely upon public piers, docks, wharfs, boat ramps, or boat landings in connection with commercial fishing activities...this Section does not enlarge or infringe upon the existing rights of individuals to access the navigable waters of this State or the rights of owners of private property adjacent to the public beaches or public waterways of this State; however, any such individuals are still subject to the provisions of prior and future Orders issued by the undersigned in connection with the State of Emergency."


“Any and all” law enforcement offices of the State, as well as city and county law enforcement agencies, were authorized in the order to “do whatever may be deemed necessary to maintain peace and good order during the State of Emergency and to enforce the provisions of this Order and any prior or future Orders issued by the undersigned in connection with the present State of Emergency.”


According to South Carolina Code, “any individual who “refuse[s] to disperse upon order of a law enforcement officer, willfully fail[s] or refuse[s] to comply with any lawful order or direction of any law enforcement officer, or otherwise violates any provision of any Order issued by the undersigned in connection with the State of Emergency “is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than one hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days.”


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