BOLIVAR PENINSULA, Texas — Galveston County announced it will close nearly 30 miles of beaches on Bolivar Peninsula, including Crystal Beach, to residents and visitors.
It's a move aimed to keep large crowds off beaches Easter weekend as COVID-19 cases continue increasing across Southeast Texas.
The order closing the beaches begins Friday and will remain in place until at least April 17.
"Beaches in Galveston County are closed and must be vacated, all beach access points in Galveston County shall be closed, and ingress to beaches in prohibited," the order by Galveston Co. Judge Mark Henry reads.
The Texas General Land Office will not allow the beach to remain open to residents only. As a public beach, it must be closed to all.
Galveston County Commissioner Darrell Apffel told The Daily News that sheriff's office deputies will be patrolling and ordering people off the beach.
People who refuse to leave the beach could be arrested and face a $500 fine, according to the order.
The closure of Bolivar Peninsula beaches comes nearly two weeks after Galveston closed its beaches due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Galveston leaders tried to avoid closing public beaches to give residents an area for exercise and to get fresh air while maintaining safe social distancing.
"However, it is clear that there are many people visiting from other areas in defiance of local, state and national travel recommendations and/or restrictions. As a result, the City of Galveston must restrict access to the public beach," city officials said in a statement.
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Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, the CDC says.
These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:
- Shortness of breath
PREVENT THE SPREAD:
Clean your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Stay home if you’re sick
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.
Cover coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Clean and disinfect
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.