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Boaters 'ecstatic' as South Carolina boat landings reopen

Boaters will have to follow certain rules such as social distancing in order to be out on the water as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

IRMO, S.C. — South Carolina boaters were able to get back on the water after Governor Henry McMaster allowed boat landings to reopen across the Palmetto State.

Boat ramps were able to reopen starting Friday at noon.

Public boat landings across South Carolina were ordered previously to be closed to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The revision specifies that public boat landings and associated parking areas can now be opened at the discretion of the local government or other managing authorities of those landings. 

The order also authorizes the managing authority of any public landing to close or otherwise restrict public access to that public boat ramp or landing if they determine that such action is necessary to preserve or protect public health.

Sherri and Gene Anderson decided to come out to Lake Murray when they heard the public landing would be opened.

"We're ready to get on the water and get back to getting some sunshine and doing some fishing," said Sherri.

Boating is something the Anderson's do on a regular basis for the past 20 years.

"I guess most recently the last couple of years, two or three times a week," said Gene.

The family usually gets back out on the water in April but their boating season has been postponed due to the governor's original order to close the public boat landings.

RELATED: South Carolina reopens public boat ramps, docks

The revision does NOT address other facilities often co-located at public landings such as restrooms, piers, docks or designated bank fishing areas. Those types of facilities remain closed. The revision to Executive Order 2020-16, Section 1(C) reopens public boat ramps, landings and parking lots only for the limited purpose of launching and retrieving boats. Public beach access points remain closed.

Executive Order No. 2020-13 (Authorizing Law Enforcement to Maintain Order, Ensure Public Safety, and Preserve Public Health During the State of Emergency) remains in effect.

Dominion Energy told News 19 they would be opening all the boat ramps on Lake Murray.

"People have been isolated for so long and been in their houses and people with small children who are in their houses doing homeschooling, it's a good place for people to come out so they can have their social distancing and be away from each other and still be together as a family doing something fun on the water," said Sherri.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has rules people need to be aware of.

Docks and piers are not open for fishing.

While people are out on the water, boats must be moving at all times. They can only anchor if they are fishing.

Social distancing is continuing to be enforced out on the water. There must be only two people on a boat, with the exception of family members in the same household.

People and boats also cannot be on a riverbank or sandbar.

The Anderson family hopes people will follow the rules so everyone can enjoy being out on the water.

"I hope people don't get in groups together, have too many people on the boat like they're not supposed to, go up on the beaches and get together," said Sherri. "Hope everybody does what they're supposed to do so we can keep these open and keep coming out. Follow the rules and make life easier."

RELATED: South Carolina Parks host virtual camp out

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