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Could 'Coastal Distancing' lead to closing our beaches again?

Should we close our beaches again?
Posted at 8:53 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 23:57:52-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Soon, there could be some tough new restrictions on area beaches.

Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales said today that she’s in talks with the Texas General Land Office to restrict access to the beaches because of the current spike in COVID-19 cases.

A decision could be coming as soon as Wednesday.

Our beaches are the heart of our tourist industry.

But recently they've become a hot spot for large gatherings.

So local leaders are taking the unprecedented action.of asking visitors to stay away -- going as far as stop advertising our beaches in major cities.

“All of the out of town visitors that are coming for day trips, short vacations, and just general summer fun - it's got to stop,” Canales said.

But tourism is what drives our economy.

County and city leaders want people to know it is not safe to travel to the Coastal Bend.

“Tell all your family that lives out of state, your best friends, your reunions, all the best things...not today,” Canales said. “And maybe not tomorrow, either.”

Coastal distancing advertisements were being broadcast throughout the state up until yesterday.

They were supposed to be taken down in June.

“Over the past couple of days, staff has reached out to all television and billboard media companies to personally tell them to take down all of our advertising,” Corpus Christi City Manager Peter Zanoni said.

Brett Oetting, president of Visit Corpus Christi, says tourism is the second largest industry in Corpus Christi.

“People are going to come down here whether we ask them to or not,” Oetting said. “But at the same time we're telling them that it's not going to be the best Corpus Christi experience that you're going to get right now. And we recommend maybe looking at postponing your trip and coming back at a later date.”

From hotels, restaurants and bars – more than 17,000 employees are in the hospitality industry locally

Visit Corpus Christi tells us that in a year they spend a couple of million dollars just on advertising to get people to visit our area.

KRIS 6 is told that Visit Corpus Christi will stop all advertising costs for the rest of July.

“It’s a very tough situation right now to try to balance,” Oetting said. “Do we actually tell people we don't think they should come here, right now?”

As of now “Coastal Distancing" is not only for tourists.

It could also be for us locals, too.

“We don’t think it’s unreasonable at this point, to begin the discussions, of once again, having to restrict access to our beaches,” Canales said.

City and county leaders say that decision will be made on Wednesday.