The dire need for social distancing coupled with hordes of out-of-town and local visitors forced the City of Galveston and Galveston County to close all public beaches on March 29. The order was meant to run through Monday, April 13, but was extended through April 30.
Now, some beaches in the area have opened. Per a Facebook post, Galveston County announced the reopening of beaches in unincorporated areas — meaning Bolivar Peninsula — as of April 13.
The post also noted:
The beaches will continue to be heavily patrolled by law enforcement to ensure social distancing requirements are being adhered to.
The unincorporated beaches will continue to be actively monitored by the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management (GCOEM) and if necessary, additional action will be taken if there is evidence people are not following the requirements of social distancing.
The move comes as Galveston County most recently reported 341 COVID-19 cases and nine deaths. Galveston city and county officials had initially tried to keep the beaches open in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“However, it is clear that there are many people visiting from other areas in defiance of local, state, and national travel recommendations and/or restrictions,” the City noted in a press release, adding, “the Texas General Land Office will not allow the beach to remain open to residents only. As a public beach, it must be closed to all.”
Violators of the order face a Class C misdemeanor, according to a city press release. Nearby Lake Houston also closed its beaches and sandbars for similar reasons, and said despite the closures, beachgoers continued flocking in groups, as CultureMap news partner, ABC13, reported.