As of 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Cameron County parks, beaches and boat ramps are open again, though with restrictions.
County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. announced the easing of restrictions, which were implemented weeks ago to slow the spread of COVID-19, at a press conference on Friday. He said the reopening of beaches is being done in coordination with the mayor and city council of South Padre Island. Parking lots at pedestrian-only beach parks such as Isla Blanca or E.K. Atwood will be limited to 50 percent capacity, while drive-on beaches will require at least 20 feet between vehicles, Treviño said.
Social distancing must be practiced and everyone at the beach must wear a mask or facial covering, though they are not required in the water, he said. Watercraft for fishing may have a maximum of two occupants, or four occupants if members of the same household, and everyone has to wear a mask or facial covering. Charter fishing boats 18 feet or smaller may contain a guide and one client. Boats 22-26 feet in length may contain a guide and two clients. Treviño noted that the rules for boats between 18 and 22 feet need clarification.
On boats as well, masks or facial coverings must be worn, he said. Cleaning fish at docks or filet tables will not be allowed since Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines can’t be enforced. When launching or driving boats at boat ramps, at least one vehicle length must be maintained between vehicles. Social distancing at boat ramps is required and Treviño asked that visitors be respectful toward each other.
All parks will close at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., depending on the park. Complete details will be available on the Cameron County website, Treviño said, adding that a violation of any of the restrictions governing the soft reopenings will constitute a state offense.
“If we see that the numbers begin to escalate as a result of the lessening of these restrictions, then we’ll have no choice but to re-implement these earlier restrictions in order to make sure that these (covid-19) numbers do not get away from us,” he said.
The plan to reopen county parks and beaches will be available on the county parks website, Treviño said, also asking that visitors not leave behind litter.
“We do not want anybody leaving their trash on the beach, so take it with you and empty it at home,” he said.
The county has also relaxed restrictions on the number of people allowed to ride together in the same vehicle. Before it was limited to two with both wearing masks or facial coverings. Now there is no limit, though everyone must wear facial coverings, family or not, if there is more than one person in the vehicle.
The county still recommends that, in the interest of public health, children 14 and younger not accompany parents or guardians on trips to obtain essential items or services, Treviño said.
“We do not want the supermarkets or the stores to become inundated with families and their kids because they can travel in the vehicle. All travel must still be essential,” he said. “We’re asking everybody to abide by this. You all have been doing a good job. We need you to keep doing this.”
Also at the press conference was Francisco Galvan Garza from the Tamaulipas governor’s office, who discussed restrictions on vehicle crossings into Mexico starting April 27, based on the last number of a driver’s license plate. For complete information visit the Tamaulipas state website. Also, masks or facial coverings will have to be worn by anyone venturing outside in Tamaulipas beginning April 27. The restriction will not affect pedestrian traffic into Tamaulipas, though everyone crossing must wear a mask or facial covering, or otherwise be denied entry, Galvan said.