IssuesStatewide NewsState Agency Opens Texas Beaches, Supersedes Local Orders

Texans are now able to utilize beaches more freely after the General Land Office informed localities the state will now decide what to open and when.
May 1, 2020
Texas’ General Land Office (GLO), according to the Galveston County Daily News, clarified in a letter to localities that beaches would be opened on Friday in congruence with Governor Abbott’s first phase of reopening.

Abbott did not specifically mention beaches as part of his first reopening phase, but later specified his intention was for beaches to be included.

Up to that point, the GLO had remained deferential to the localities — a position the state has maintained until Abbott’s Monday order, which he said “supersedes all local orders.”

But after a two-day delay, the state sent a clarification to the localities.

The letter read, in part, “The GLO is rescinding its approval for local governments to close beaches due to COVID-19, effective April 30, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.”

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“The GLO understands that conditions may change, and local governments are required to contact the GLO for prior approval for any future closures of the beach to vehicles or pedestrians, closures of beach access points, time limitations, or restrictions on particular uses or activities on the beach,” it continued.

Beaches have closed to varying degrees as different localities implemented different provisions. Nueces County issued a beach curfew for 8 p.m. and Port Aransas specifically outlawed fishing. The City of Galveston closed most of its beaches and while Galveston County only closed them for a few days around the Easter Holiday.

But now, all local orders — including surrounding beaches — will be brought to heel in accordance with the state’s order.

Beaches have become a lightning rod issue across the country as some photos of beach use were cited to criticize beachgoer’s “lack of social distancing,” but images from a different perspective painted a different picture. In other places, however, crowded beaches have been accurately portrayed such as during spring break during March.

In response to the state order, Texas beaches have loosened their restrictions but still maintain some such as prohibitions on camping or setting up umbrellas and beach towels.

Just as with the reopening of restaurants, beach openings come with stipulations. But starting today, more people will be able to enjoy the sunshine on the beach than before.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.