Tourists adjusting to new 'social distancing norms’ along the Grand Strand

Grand Strand tourists adjust to social distancing guidelines at attractions

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Thousands of people are making their way to the Grand Strand to spend their Memorial Day weekend on the sandy beaches.

And with more attractions permitted to reopen, many tourists are having to let go of their former “vacation ways,” and adjust to the new “social distancing norms” for businesses.

Tourist Jill Singer is vacationing with her family in Myrtle Beach and said seeing so many safety changes at numerous attractions will take a bit more time for many families to get accustomed to.

“It is different," Singer said. "We [all] have to be more careful and more cautious.”

She said the restrictions aren’t stopping her from having a good time with the family.

“The businesses aren’t as crowded because people are being cautious,” Singer said. “We’re still having fun.”

Mia Houlihan traveled from Connecticut to Myrtle Beach to visit the recently opened attractions and beaches.

“It’s different," Houlihan said. “But it’s great seeing people; I like that.”

She feels many businesses in the city are taking the social distancing guidelines seriously and that makes her feel more comfortable about returning to the Grand Strand.

Many attraction businesses decided to reopen their doors for the Memorial Day travelers while introducing tourists to their new “social distancing norms."

Ripley’s Believe It or Not has opened up its doors, requiring all staff to wear protective equipment while limiting the number of guests inside the facilities.

WonderWorks park reopened their zip line Friday and are reopening all park attractions Tuesday, giving staff more time to prepare for the possible influx of tourists coming back for the summer season.

Robert Stinnett, regional director for WonderWorks, said he wants to ensure guests are aware of the new safety norms posted on signs throughout the facility.

“[Ensuring] no one has a temperature, no one’s been around anyone that’s had [COVID-19] symptoms," Stinnett said.

WonderWorks is requiring a verbal yes from every guest to ensure they comply with the safety rules.

Stinnett said all WonderWorks staff members will be wearing masks.

Although attractions were permitted to reopen Friday, some are choosing to open their doors a bit later to ensure they’re fully prepared to keep all tourists safe.

The Myrtle Beach SkyWheel will be up-and-running on Monday. Their crew members will be cleaning after each ride and they’re requiring staff members to wear a mask.

Some tourists feel having the attractions reopened during the summer season is a good step toward getting back to a normal life before the pandemic.

“When the pandemic was at its worst we were filled with anxiety,"said Matthew Dashaw, an out-of-state tourist. "It’s nice to be able to interact [with people] again while being socially responsible.”

In preparation for tourists visiting the new attractions, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau launched a “Visit Responsibly Campaign” for the public, encouraging visitors to follow Gov. Henry McMaster’s safety guidelines.

The organizations released several videos to the public detailing safety guidelines visitors should be following inside of local businesses and outside on the beaches, including keeping the six-foot distance and utilizing hand sanitation stations.

Although wearing a face mask or facial covering isn’t required in South Carolina, the chamber and Convention and Visitors Bureau is recommending tourists wear facial coverings in public places.

The organizations are also encouraging everyone to remember it’s still a pandemic and to exercise patience and empathy when visiting businesses that are trying to implement the safety guidelines.

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