Heading to Galveston over Labor Day weekend? Here's what to know about restrictions

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Unlike the Fourth of July weekend, Galveston will keep its beaches open during the Labor Day holiday.

The city is preparing to handle big crowds. One of those in town for the holiday is Frank Bulter, who lost his Lake Charles home during Hurricane Laura.

"It's beautiful, and the people are nice, so it's been a blessing in disguise at the same time," Butler said.

Butler and his girlfriend were happy to hear the beaches will be accessible over the holiday weekend.

"I think if everyone can be cautious on social distancing, and keep everybody safe and their well-being in mind, yeah, it can be open," Butler said.

The beaches were open during Memorial Day weekend too, and there was a surge of new coronavirus case in Galveston County. Although the beaches were closed for the holiday weekend in July, Mayor Pro-tem Craig Brown said that won't be the case over Labor Day after talking with medical experts at UTMB.

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The sands of Galveston Island filled up with families on Friday as people made an escape from quarantines and stay home orders.



"We feel that having the beaches open will not be that much of a concern and would allow the crowds to possibly spread out," Brown explained.

The beaches will be open, but there are some restrictions. There is no parking at Diamond Beach and Fort San Jacinto.

In addition, parking restrictions are underway on the north side of Seawall Boulevard between 25th and 37th streets. It will last through the weekend.
Brown said keeping the beaches open will also help the Galveston business community - an area that has done better than expected.

Galveston tourism leaders said at the start of the pandemic, they forecasted hotel stays would drop by nearly 50 percent this summer. It did fall compared to 2019, but only by 16 percent.

"Is it great? No. It's not great for anyone," Galveston Island Chief Tourism Officer Michael Woody explained. "But we are fortunate that we've had a good amount of visitation."

Woody said even if a vaccine is available by the end of the year, they're not sure 2021 will experience a boost.

"The recovery is going to be about three years to get back up to pre-numbers," Woody said. "I think we've got some runway on that. I think we're going to respond a little bit better than that."

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