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Mayor: Despite rumors, Galveston is not closing its beaches or discussing closures

Mayor Jim Yarbrough said the city isn’t even considering it— officials don’t even have the power to enforce beach closures.

GALVESTON, Texas — Editor's Note: The above video was published May 29, 2020.

Galveston is not closing its beaches again despite recent speculation, city leaders said.

Mayor Jim Yarbrough said neither are beach closures up for discussion, particularly because he doesn’t feel local leaders have the power to enforce such a mandate.

Yarbrough told Galveston County Daily News that an executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott instructing Texas beaches to reopen would make it difficult.

The publication said it also confirmed Texas General Land Office, which oversees state beaches, hasn’t received any recent requests from the city to close beach access points either temporarily or permanently.

Earlier this week, Yarbrough signed an emergency order threatening businesses with an up to $1,000 fine if they didn’t require customers and employees to wear masks. The mayor expressed concerns about the growing number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in state.

The mask order has some speculating what the city may do next to curb coronavirus spread.

MORE CORONAVIRUS NEWS

Thousands have flocked to Galveston, especially during the holiday weekends, for summer fun since Galveston beaches fully reopened May 1. 

Residents claim its mostly out-of-town visitors from cities like Houston, which is quickly becoming a coronavirus hot spot.

Galveston has periodically closed some beach access points to control crowds and more patrol efforts have been put in place to enforce social distancing, but some fear it may not be enough.

Galveston County Health District confirmed more than 2,000 people have tested positive for the virus, including 334 cases within Galveston city limits. Texas health officials report more than 120,300 positive cases and over 4,000 hospitalizations.