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Memorial Day crowds to test Port A's social distancing

Posted at 9:29 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 23:27:51-04

PORT ARANSAS, Texas — Traffic stretched a considerable distance from the entrances to Port Aransas on Friday indicating a busy Memorial Day weekend is on tap.

It has some people concerned that social distancing and other efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 might become compromised.

However, local leaders believe the community has struck a good balance in allowing businesses -- like bars just Friday -- to reopen, all while preventing the transmission of the novel coronavirus.

"We’re trying to open up in a manner that allows people to have fun -- get back to some sort of normal life," said Nueces Co. Precinct 4 Commissioner Brent Chesney. "But please (don't contract COVID-19) and we have to go back in the other direction (closing businesses again).”

Port Aransas restaurants such as Shells Pasta and Seafood are now operating at 50 percent of their capacities. The owner is confident that reduction in customers inside his building is keeping people safe, and he's hopeful for a big weekend.

The restaurant was just starting to recover from another disaster before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

“We were already slower than we would like to have been, because after (Hurricane) Harvey, (sales) dropped down probably to a third of where they were before," said Heber Stone. "And (the coronavirus) reduced it by another third probably. It really hit us in the pocketbook.”

Stone is hopeful that Memorial Day weekend will help him make up for some of his losses, all while keeping all of his customers safe.

"This kind of sets the tone for the whole summer, and it looks like there’s going to be a really good one this year," Stone said.

Chesney agrees with Stone on both accounts.

"They had a huge weekend last weekend, and the one before, and this one is going to be even bigger," he said. "Again, we want that to happen, but we want people to be safe."