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Galveston beaches are open this weekend but most Seawall parking is banned

Galveston County has seen a recent spike in COVID-19 cases as tourists pack the island.

GALVESTON, Texas — Fun in the sun on the sand and in the surf is possible again on Galveston Island.

But open beaches are a mixed blessing on the island as COVID-19 continues to spread.

According to the Galveston County Health District, coronavirus cases have doubled over the last two weeks to more than 5,300 cases. And the county is currently averaging more than 200 positive cases per day.

Galveston recently overtook Fort Bend County -- which has more than twice the population -- to become the county with the second most cases in Greater Houston behind Harris County.

Beaches closed last weekend because of soaring COVID-19 cases.

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“I know last weekend it was closed on the 4th of July," said visitor Tasha Nelson.  "So I just wanted to come out here this weekend because the kids have been in the house all week.”

The closure cut deeply into the bottom lines of island businesses like Benno’s on the Beach.

"It was way off," said Benno's GM Tracy Deltz.  "I was probably off a little better than 50% of what I should’ve done.”

The City of Galveston is trying to control crowds by restricting access in some areas. Parking along a busy stretch of Seawall Boulevard is prohibited through Sunday.

And beach accessibility has been a concern among local health officials since Memorial Day.

"Can you go to the beach safely?" Galveston Co. Health Authority Phillip Keiser recently asked.  "Yeah, I think you can, but if you come to the beach and it’s really crowded and there’s not a good place where your family can be safe, perhaps that’s not a good thing to do.”

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Businesses told us they continue to abide by social distancing and other measures and encourage island visitors to do the same.

"Hopefully, we’ll be able to get the numbers down on this coronavirus to be able to keep beaches open, you know, through Labor Day,” said Deltz.

For more: Galveston County's COVID-19 information page