City of Galveston stay home orders impacting businesses

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In a virtual meeting, two of Galveston's city leaders gave updates on where the island stands amid the coronavirus crisis.

"The global impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry has been devastating," said Galveston park board director Kelly DeShaun. "Travel and tourism is changed forever."

DeShaun said the park board relies heavily on tourists. She said they've implemented significant budget and operational reductions for the remaining six months of the fiscal year.

For the months of April and May, she predicts there will be limited, if any, revenue coming in to the parks board.

She's hoping beyond May and into the summer there will be somewhat of a return to normalcy.

"Today, we're trying to salvage part of the summer, but we understand business will be slow to return," said DeShaun.

Most park facilities remain closed and small teams are working to continue the upkeep of parks and beaches.

The park board is evaluating the long-term impacts COVID-19 will have on tourism, the cruise industry, and leisure travel.

DeShaun said, "the economic impact of these last 60 days is destined to affect Galveston, not only for this fiscal year, but for several years to come."

Once the island opens back up, DeShaun said they'll launch a campaign to invite visitors back.

City manager Brian Maxwell was also in on Tuesday's meeting. He said financially, the city is in good shape, but predicts a downturn in sales tax.

He said everything that's being done now, because of the coronavirus, is to keep residents safe and get things back to normal, as quickly as possible.

"I, for one, am willing to sacrifice April, early May and the start of summer to start getting residents back to work and our businesses and restaurants back open again and we can do so in a safe manner," said Maxwell.

Maxwell, along with Mayor Jim Yarbrough, later hosted a virtual town hall for residents via Facebook where the two answered their most frequently asked questions.

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In the video above, city manager Brian Maxwell, along with Mayor Jim Yarbrough, host a virtual town hall for residents via Facebook where the two answered their most frequently ask

Maxwell announced two new Galveston COVID-19 related deaths, one of which he said was a patient in his or her 30s. As of April 7, Galveston County has a total of 256 positive cases.

The two also answered questions about activity at the Port of Galveston. Mayor Yarbrough said last month was the busiest month in the port's history regarding its cargo operations.

"It's very active and very engaged," said Yarbrough.

He assured residents that crew members on those cargo ships do not leave the ship.

"They can't go to Walmart to get supplies," explained Yarbrough. "Everything is delivered to the vessel itself."

All cruise ship lines remain closed, and in the last week, Yarbrough said the cruise lines have made decisions to offload some of their crew members.

He said there are about 1,000 crew members on each of the port's six cruise line ships. Yarbrough said before leaving, the crew members are tested for COVID-19 and if they test positive, they are asked to remain on the ship and self-quarantine.

"This is not something that anybody is used to," said Maxwell during the meeting's closing remarks. "Galveston is no stranger to adversity. We've seen the good and we've seen the bad, but personally right now, we're seeing a lot of the good. Our number one priority is the safety and security of our residents."

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