As Texas officially begins its first phase of partially reopening certain businesses, the City of Galveston officially reopened all public beaches as of Friday, May 1 — with social distancing recommendations, according to the city.
The move comes after Galveston reopened beaches on April 27, but only from 6 am to 9 pm daily for pedestrians, joggers, and surfers. Access to the beach was closed during all other hours; anyone violating the order faced a Class C misdemeanor and a $500 fine. Vehicular traffic was also banned, as was setting up chairs, tents, or beach picnics. Those restrictions have now been lifted.
As CultureMap previously reported, 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.”
That’s all changed now, with the city inviting visitors to beaches all day — so long as they practice safe gatherings. “The City of Galveston's top priority is the health of our residents,” said the city, in a statement. “We strongly urge our residents to continue taking health precautions and following the CDC, state and health district guidelines regarding COVID-19, including social distancing and avoiding gatherings of more than 10.”
The reopening is a first step in the City of Galveston and parks board's goal to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic and “salvage the summer,” a slogan taken from their recent state of the city announcement.