Galveston Island prepares to welcome Spring Break crowds

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Galveston Island businesses and tourism attractions are anticipating to see crowds of people visiting for Spring Break in the coming weeks.

Manager of Dorothy May's fashion store Julie Roberts said the consensus among store owners and managers on The Strand is that they will continue to have some COVID-19 measures in place when Texas opens to 100% capacity next Wednesday.

"It's pretty much business as usual except for the cleaning, the guidelines and the mask wearing," Roberts said. "And, if we see that the store, especially on the weekend, is starting to look at capacity, we have those numbers in our head, then we'll just stop at the door and say you have to wait until some other people leave."

Chief tourism officer for the Galveston Island Convention and Visitor Bureau Michael Woody said in previous years, Galveston has welcomed 300,000 people for Spring Break. Woody said Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order to open up to 100% capacity and leaving the mask rules up to business owners and establishments will help reopen some of their tourist attractions.

"We're surveying all of our industry partners right now to get a better feel for what they are going to be asking visitors to do. But, I think the best course is to bring your mask along," Woody said. "We want you to be able to experience the most of the island that you can, and there will still be a number of places that are really encouraging that."

Woody said even though Galveston has started to see an increase in tourists, industry experts anticipate it could take two to three years for businesses to fully recover from impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Galveston Island Beach Patrol, the beaches will remain open for Spring Break. Previous restrictions, such as no groups larger than 10 people, were already lifted before Abbott made his announcement on Tuesday.

Woody also said they are hoping cruise lines will be able to start up again this summer.

"We have about 7.5 million visitors a year, and about one million of those are coming from cruises. So, certainly, a big part of who and what we are. But looking forward to coming back," Woody said. "Both Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney are the three that operate out of here."

According to the city of Galveston website, Island Transit riders and bus drivers will also be required to wear masks while using public transit despite recent changes in Texas.

Another change expected to go into effect starting March 10 includes the voter-approved Seawall hourly parking rate to increase from $1 to $2 per hour.

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