The City of Galveston is announcing changes in beach access and enforcement in advance of the weekend.
Eight beach access points in Galveston will be closed to vehicles beginning Friday through the weekend in response to concerns about heavy-traffic and the inability to ensure safe social distancing to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.
Earlier this week, the City of Galveston sought authority from the Texas General Land Office, which regulates Texas beaches, to prohibit vehicular access on Galveston beaches.
On Thursday, the Texas General Land Office agreed to the city’s request prohibiting vehicular traffic at eight beach access points. These eight access points were selected because they have historically drawn heavy traffic and presented crowding issues.
The eight locations include Sunny Beach, Hershey Beach, 13 Mile Road, 16 Mile Road, Bay Harbor, Miramar, Stavanger, and Salt Cedar. These beaches will remain open to pedestrian traffic, however, will be closed to vehicles beginning Friday, May 8 at 6 a.m. through Sunday, May 10 at 9 p.m.
“We thank the Texas General Land Office for granting this action, which helps the island better manage and disperse crowds to ensure safe social distancing, and also frees up our first responders to address other areas of the city,” City Manager Brian Maxwell said.
The state issued a directive on May 1 reopening Texas beaches, including Galveston, which had been closed except for the hours of 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. for exercise only in response to concerns about community spread of COVID-19.
The Galveston Police Department and Galveston Island Beach Patrol will continue enforcing social distancing mandates on Galveston beaches, in addition to water safety. The City of Galveston and the Galveston Park Board have also partnered on an aerial advertising initiative to promote social distancing.
The City will also staff additional Galveston Police Department officers to enforce city regulations. This, coupled with spending less time clearing visitors at the vehicular access points, should grant our first responders a better ability to manage crowds over the next three weekends. Officers will continue wearing personal protective equipment to maintain safety to the extent possible for front-line personnel.
Galveston is a welcoming community and we want residents and visitors alike to safely enjoy their time on the island. While doing this, we ask that you continue to use your best judgment. We strongly urge our visitors and residents to continue following the health and safety guidelines mandated by the state. These include keeping six feet distance between yourself and others who are not in your household, avoiding congregating in groups of 10 or more, and wearing a mask in places where social distancing is difficult to achieve.
We are still in the first phase of Texas’ reopening plan and as a result bars and large entertainment attractions will remain closed this weekend per the governor’s order. Under state mandates, restaurants and retail shops are operating at 25 percent capacity. Please keep this in mind as you make your plans on the island. We encourage making reservations at local restaurants to avoid the need for waiting in lines. Many businesses are also still offering your favorite Galveston dishes as takeout.
The health and safety of our first responders, residents, and visitors is our top priority. We are all responsible for following the public health recommendations regarding a safe phased reopening of Texas.