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All beaches are now open

Again, ready or not.

Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough isn’t worried about Texas beaches reopening to the public on Friday. He’s worried about where people will go after they leave the beach.

“If Houston people want to come and congregate on the beach and do their thing and go back to Houston, with or without whatever they might have contracted, that’s fine,” Yarbrough said. “But the volume of people that come, they’re not just going to the beach and getting in their car. There’s restaurants, there’s gas stations, there’s grocery stores … it’s all the little dominoes and ramifications of people coming to Galveston.”

Galveston had begun a soft reopening of its beaches on Monday — open from 6 to 9 a.m. to pedestrians — that is now null and void as part of Texas’s phased reopening when the state’s stay-at-home order expired at midnight. The Texas General Land Office, which governs beach access across the state, informed coastal cities like Galveston that they no longer had the authority to close beaches due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The city of Galveston announced the land office’s decision in a news release Wednesday, noting the agency’s guidance “rescinding its approval for local governments to close beaches due to COVID-19.” The order effectively opened all of Texas’s coastline to the public beginning at 12 a.m. Friday.

The basis for the land office’s green light to open beaches was Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order encouraging outdoor activities “so long as necessary precautions are maintained” to minimize transmission of the virus and in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.

[…]

While Yarbrough said enforcement would be “minimal,” the Galveston City Council passed an ordinance Thursday mandating social distancing rules on beaches, outdoor venues, and entertainment venues. Violators will be subject to a $500 fine.

See here for some background. I can’t wait for some local Hotze to file a lawsuit claiming that Galveston has no authority to impose such a fine on beaches within its city limits. I’ve said that there’s value in reopening public spaces like beaches, which not only give people a needed place to go outside their homes but also represent a low risk of infection, at least as long as people aren’t crowding too close together. Skirmishes about opening beaches are happening in California as well, and probably in every other state that borders an ocean. We should recognize that this does place a larger burden on the towns where the beaches are, and give them a bit of space to handle it. And really, if there are alternative ways to go outside and get some fresh air, that don’t involve driving an hour or more down to Galveston, maybe consider that, at least for the time being.

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One Comment

  1. Markisha says:

    I think everyone should stay home until this is all over cuz ppl is still getting sick well me and my family staying home