Access to city and county beaches will be limited for the Fourth of July weekend because of the statewide and local spike in COVID-19 cases.
An order banning vehicular access to Nueces County bay and gulf beaches goes into effect Friday morning at 6 a.m. and ends at 6 a.m. July 7.
The restrictions also include golf carts and all-terrain vehicles.
What the order does not address is where the thousands of beach visitors expected this holiday weekend will be able to park.
With beaches limited to pedestrians only, parking places will be at a premium because once they’re gone, you’re going to have to walk.
Just a few weeks ago, local officials expected thousands of tourists flocking to Padre Island and packed beaches, similar to what we saw Memorial Day weekend.
“You could have driven that beach and you weren’t going to find a space to get in on the beach,” said Director of Coastal Parks Scott Cross.
Nueces County tried a similar plan over Easter weekend, with mixed results.
“Easter weekend when we closed it down, it proved to us that the honor system is not going to work with these cables and barricades,” said Cross.
This weekend, the county will keep vehicles out by blocking access roads with giant sand berms. While public parking near the beach is limited, local leaders aren’t worried.
“We don’t expect traffic volumes to be where we thought they would be about two weeks ago,” said Corpus Christi City Manager Peter Zanoni.
Even though Corpus Christi is a tourist destination, Zanoni believes now is not the time for out-of-town visitors.
“We have a crisis going on here in our county; we’re one of the fastest-growing areas in terms of new COVID cases every day,” said Zanoni.
City and county leaders worked closely to get beach orders out as early as possible to give potential visitors plenty of notice.
“Hopefully people will hear the warnings, hear the advice,” said Zanoni. “If they do make it here it’s going to be a tough walk from anywhere on the island to the beach, I’m not sure that will be in their best interests.”
“It’s really important that we do this for the safety of the people living here and the safety of people visiting here,” added Cross.