UPDATE: Galveston beaches reopened July 6.
Galveston beaches will be closed and parking will be blocked on both sides of Seawall Boulevard over the holiday weekend in response to recent increases in cases of COVID-19, and health and safety concerns for our residents and visitors.
Beginning this Friday, July 3, at 5 a.m. through Monday, July 6, at 12:01 a.m., Galveston beaches will be closed to all traffic. People will not be allowed to access Gulf beaches at any location within the City of Galveston. Beaches will reopen Monday morning.
Mayor Jim Yarbrough signed an executive order for the beach closure Wednesday after the city conferred with the Texas General Land Office. The decision to close beaches comes after much deliberation; however, the city feels it is in the best interest of our residents and visitors to close beaches ahead of the busy holiday weekend.
Our local health officials have stated that we are at a critical juncture in this pandemic in Galveston County and the greater Houston region. The decision follows the guidance of medical professionals and comes after Texas Medical Center hospitals entered into Phase 2 surge plans for ICU capacity in neighboring Harris County.
“At this time, based on the current health situation and the guidance of medical professionals, I do not feel it is prudent or responsible to have thousands of visitors descending on Galveston beaches,” Mayor Jim Yarbrough said. “Galveston has and always will be a welcoming destination, but the ongoing public health crisis demands our attention and response. We have to prioritize health and safety.”
The order may be enforced by any peace officer of the Galveston Police Department or City Marshal’s office, and any member of Galveston Island Beach Patrol. Violation of the order is a Class C misdemeanor and carries an up to $500 fine.
The City of Galveston is also temporarily prohibiting parking on both sides of Seawall Boulevard from 5 a.m. Friday to 12:01 a.m. Monday. The city will place no parking signs beginning Friday morning; however, people will be able to exercise on the Seawall sidewalk. Chairs, picnics, tents, or any other type of tailgating on the Seawall sidewalk is not allowed. Additionally, there will be no parking on Boddeker Drive.
We are in a pandemic and remain concerned about the health and safety of our residents and visitors. Whether you live here or are on vacation, remember the most effective ways to protect yourself: keep at least six feet distance from others, wear a mask in public spaces, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.
The City of Galveston has a mask order in place, which effectively requires masks for people over the age of 10 at all Galveston businesses that serve the public. There are a few exceptions to this, such as when you are consuming food or drink or while at the beach or exercising. More information about the policy is available at galvestontx.gov/coronavirus.
The Galveston Police Department will have additional police officers on duty this weekend to respond to calls and assist with traffic safety. The City Marshal’s office will have peace officers on duty working with businesses to ensure the mask order is being enforced.
As a friendly reminder, unlicensed or unpermitted fireworks are not permitted within the City of Galveston. Fire Marshals will be working this weekend to enforce the prohibition on possession and/or discharging of fireworks within the city, which is a Class C misdemeanor. Violators caught setting off or in possession of fireworks can face up to $2,000 in fines daily. The Galveston Fire Department is urging the public to take every precaution to ensure a safe, fun holiday. For more information about fire safety, please contact the Galveston Fire Marshal’s Office by calling (409) 797-3870.
Note, the July 4th parade and the public fireworks display were canceled earlier this summer because of concerns regarding COVID-19 and social distancing.
For more information, please visit galvestontx.gov or follow us on social media @CityofGalveston.
The full text of the order is available here.