Thousands crowd Galveston beaches Memorial Day weekend

Thousands of people crowded Galveston beaches Saturday for Memorial Day weekend.

According to Galveston Island Beach Patrol’s chief Peter Davis, between 250,000 and 500,000 people are expected to visit Galveston for Memorial Day weekend.

“I didn’t think it would be this packed,” said one tourist.

After several weeks of social distancing, many people seemed excited to be outside in the sun and sand.

“I’m glad to see everyone out and trying to get back to a normal life,” said Michelle Thomas.

Despite the risk associated with Coronavirus COVID-19, many people didn’t seem worried about getting sick.

“No,” Stephanie Fraysur responded. “I believe God has got me. I try to stay away from as many people as I can, but not today.”

The amusement park rides on Pleasure Pier remain closed, but for the most part the beach seems like it’s back to “normal”.

“The major concern is making sure we don’t have a spike,” said Michael Woody, from Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau. “[We’re] making sure people are following the guidelines. The most we can do is remind them.”

An airplane flew above the sea wall Saturday pulling a banner that reminded people to keep 6 feet apart.

“Since we opened beaches a few weeks ago, weekends have been like holidays already,” said Davis. "Weekdays are like weekends. This kind of triples everything I guess. I see a lot of people, but I don’t see any masks, except on the press and first responders.  [However], I have noticed a lot of people are social distancing.  The beach gives them a lot of room to spread out.”

As of Friday, bars started re-opening across Texas to 25 percent capacity, while restaurants can now half fill their dining rooms.

According to Rainee Lockwood from Texadelphia Restaurant and Bar, the past several weeks have been a financially challenging time.

“It’s been a little stressful,” said Lockwood. “We’re working through it. We’re going to make it through as long as we stick together. It’s definitely been a little rough and very different. We’re making the proper adjustments to keep everybody safe.”

“Protect yourself and do your social duty,” said Davis. “Come down here and don’t spread it.  Go back home and have a good time.”

As many as 500,000 people are expected to visit Galveston over Memorial Day weekend if the weather is nice.