Galveston’s tourism season kicks off amid uncertainty about a coronavirus surge

Galveston’s tourism season kicks off amid uncertainty about a coronavirus surge

GALVESTON — A loose line of customers snaked down the walkway to The Spot, waiting to sit down and enjoy marvelous views of the Gulf of Mexico. A “Social Distancing 101” sign plastered on the side of the two-story restaurant explained protocol, and a hostess wearing a mask greeted customers. “We’re making sure that we’ve got people properly spaced, putting stickers and lines on the ground so that we can properly space and ask (customers) to keep a safe distance,” said Javier Velez, The Spot’s general manager. “Basically every other table has been closed. We all understand that that’s what we need to do.” This is Galveston’s new normal approaching Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial kickoff of the island’s tourist season. Three weeks into Texas’s phased reopening after the coronavirus outbreak, Galveston’s tourism economy has boomed once again, a hopeful sign for an industry that sustains over 11,000 jobs and attracts more than 7 million visitors a year on average, not to mention crucial sales tax revenue for the city. Short-term rentals were flooded with bookings the first day the state reopened, with hotels seeing a sharp uptick as well. Beaches that sat dormant for weeks during the state’s stay-at-home period are now teeming with families and couples, some of whom strictly abide by social distancing requirements, with others openly flouting them. Public health experts also caution that while Galveston County hasn’t seen a major spike in coronavirus cases since the state reopened, there has ...
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