North Charleston Fire Chief Gregory A. Bulanow is asking businesses in the city to voluntarily reduce their occupancy rate.
“We’re in a pandemic situation,” Bulanow said. “And we’re asking our citizens to voluntarily reduce their occupancy ratings. And what we’re asking them to do is keep it less than 50% of their normal occupancy rating.”
Bulanow said reducing occupancy will allow shoppers to spread out and conform to social distancing recommendations to keep the community safe. If businesses follow the recommendations, they won’t need to be enforced in the form of an ordinance, he said.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said the city will abide by the instructions given from the state every day in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And he said most businesses in the city are also complying with the rules and regulations established by the state, especially in the food service industry.
“Our large tenants, our drug stores, our grocery stores, most of them are separating as they should within their location,” Summey said.
At stores like Sam’s Club, Summey said, customers may have to stand in line before they get inside because employees are trying to ensure an appropriate amount of separation among customers in the store.
Summey said the city is developing guidelines for some of its larger businesses in regard to separation.
“If they do not comply, then we will deal with it accordingly,” Summey said. “But all things that come through the state and recommendations mandated by the state, we will adhere to. But until that happens, we will allow people to still drive through our community, come through our community. We will allow all of the stores that are allowed under the current regulations of the state to operate, to continue to operate.”
Summey said that if at some point mandates come down regarding movement, the city will need assistance from the National Guard and others. And he said compliance with the state is also important when it comes to needing state and federal funding.
“We feel we have to comply with the regulations that they give us in order to get that assistance when we need it,” Summey said.