The days of panhandlers blocking busy sidewalks should be over, at least legally

Panhandling and begging is now illegal in Myrtle Beach, with a new law expanding a ban that was restricted to parts of downtown.

Myrtle Beach City Council members unanimously enacted two measures on Tuesday that further restrict loitering and panhandling.

The first new ordinance prohibits pedestrians from obstructing sidewalks, and the second bans panhandling and commercial solicitation across the entire city.

There are some exceptions to the sidewalk crowding rule, City Attorney Tom Ellenburg said, including for a medical emergency, rally, demonstration or parade.

The measures are part of a broad set of changes ushered in by the city after a spate of shootings in June. In one incident, six people were sent to the hospital after a shooter opened fire on a crowd on Ocean Boulevard.

Loitering and panhandling offenses are misdemeanors with a penalty of 30 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both.

Chloe Johnson: 843-626-0381, @_ChloeAJ