GALVESTON - The City of Galveston is preparing to levy a $500 fine against anyone who visits the beach Independence Day weekend. The city instituted a beach ban starting at 5 a.m. Friday and running through Sunday night at midnight.
Beachgoers instead squeezed in their last bit of sand and sun Thursday before the three-day shutdown begins.
“We had planned to spend tomorrow at the beach, so we just had to swap our day for today,” said Roseleta Horton, a vacationer from Phoenix, AZ.
More than 30 miles of beach will be blocked to the public over the Fourth of July weekend—the city citing medical experts and hospital capacity related to COVID-19 as its reason.
“Yup, the latest wrinkle in a long line of crazy beach stuff this season,” said Peter Davis, chief of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol.
Is Galveston Island Beach Patrol preparing to enforce the new ban on sand and water access on the island?
“That includes water-related things too, so no surfing, no swimming, no walking, no anything on the beach,” said Davis.
The abrupt closure announcement threw a wrench in the plans of vacationers from out of town, including a couple who drove down from Oklahoma.
“It really was sad to hear that it’s closing,” Connie Coppinger from Oklahoma City. “We’re like, oh great. There goes our weekend. We’ve never been here before. I’ve never seen the ocean. So we hurried up and just got here so we could just absorb the whole thing all the way until midnight, and then who knows what we’ll do the rest of the weekend.”
The ban forces businesses like John’s Beach Service to forfeit their biggest revenue weekend of the year.
“We’re losing money,” said Martin Martinez, an employee for the company which rents our beach chairs and umbrellas. “The whole island’s gonna be losing money all weekend, so it’s a big loss for everybody, not just us.”
The city has also banned parking and loitering on the Seawall.
Walking, running and skating are allowed on the Seawall.
Bolivar Peninsula’s beaches are also closed with some foot traffic exceptions.
Moody Gardens and its manmade beach are remaining open with some restrictions.