As soon as coronavirus definitively arrived in South Carolina in March, it began causing major disruptions to public health, safety and economic stability. Since the virus' arrival, the state's cities and towns have worked to provide leadership and support for their residents and businesses, and they have found ways to continue their operations and public meetings under unprecedented circumstances.
Faced with orders to close or reduce operations to fight the virus' spread, many businesses have faced hardship, and municipalities have found ways to help. Many cities and towns have served as valuable sources of information, connecting business owners with current information on federal assistance programs and other resources. In other cases, cities have amplified the message that their local businesses remain open through website listings, social media, and even by posting signage for dedicated pickup locations for curbside restaurant service.
Resources that can help with these efforts are available online. Also, there are steps cities can take to help with business license administration during this disruption.
Council, finance operations
City and town councils found ways to continue their public meetings and address pressing business items while using caution. They achieved this through virtual meetings — working their way through technical issues, learning curves and maintaining compliance with the SC Freedom of Information Act — and through applying social distancing at in-person meetings.
Other issues have grown more important as the emergency has progressed. Municipalities with a fiscal year start date of July 1 have needed to develop and pass budgets, all in an environment where the COVID-19 effect on revenue sources is still not completely clear. Some public bodies have had to find ways to safely receive input for public hearings that could not be delayed. They have gathered public input through premeeting submissions, virtual participation during meetings and even publicly available computer stations. Cities can find guidance on these operational topics in a videocast series online.
Coronavirus and the Municipal Association's Annual Meeting
The Municipal Association of SC Annual Meeting, scheduled for July 16 – 18 in Charleston, has been canceled. Recent guidelines for hotels and event venues will prevent the Association from hosting the meeting as planned.
The Association is developing a virtual Annual Meeting to host online on Friday, July 17. More information will be provided as it becomes available.
Attendees do not need to register for the virtual event. The Association will email information to cities and towns on how to participate in the virtual Annual Meeting closer to July 17.
For those who reserved a hotel room at one of the Annual Meeting hotels in Charleston, the hotel will automatically cancel the reservation.
The Charleston Place hotel has offered to honor the discounted rate of $209 per night during the canceled event dates for personal travel. Those interested must make a new reservation to take advantage of the special rate.
Virtual meeting information and updated agenda information will be available online as it is finalized.