Tybee Island leaders prepared for Spring Break visitor rush

By Mariah Congedo | February 24, 2021 at 5:27 PM EST - Updated February 24 at 5:27 PM 

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Spring Break’s busy travel season is just a few weeks away.

But it could look different this year because of the pandemic. Tybee island leaders are getting ready.

“We’re anticipating numbers to start to tick up beginning in about a week. The police department always has a countdown to March 1 because that’s when they start to see their call load start to go up,” Tybee City Manager Shawn Gillen said.

Now, nearly a year since the pandemic hit, Tybee Island city leaders say it’s hard to tell what effect it’ll have on crowds for this year’s spring break. Regardless, Gillen says they will be ready for anything.

“Our police department is ready, our fire department here, even though we won’t have lifeguards on duty yet, will be here if it does get busy on the beach,” he said.

Something Gillen says they’re having meetings about is what kinds of traffic controls they’ll need in place for the busy weekends coming up. Gillen says this includes St. Patrick’s Day.

“With no parade here or in Savannah, what’s that going to do to traffic out to the beach during that time frame? No one really knows,” Gillen said.

Two rental companies on the island, say they’re seeing a high number of bookings for March. Staff with Tybee Beach Vacation Rentals say they have about 60 percent of their properties booked.

“What really is going to be interesting is, do we see a lot of the college spring breakers come down this year? Like I said, in the past we haven’t seen a tremendous amount of college students here, but we do see some.”

Gillen says exposure to COVID-19 could be high in the city if big crowds come in.

“Just remind people to wear a mask if they’re going to be in close contact with folks and just follow the CDC guidelines.”

Gillen says depending on the crowds they see in the first few weeks of March, they may have lifeguards on the beach before their season normally starts.

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Photo: WTOC

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