By Gaige Davila
Editor’s note: This article will be updated as more information becomes available.
County parks, boat ramps and religious services in Cameron County are now allowed to operate, with restrictions.
Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr. announced the lifted restrictions during an April 24 press conference. The new executive order has been in effect since 12:01 a.m., Saturday, April 25.
All Cameron County parks and boat ramps are now open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Everyone inside the parks or boat ramps need to leave by 8:00 p.m.
For Cameron County coastal parks Andy Bowie Park, E.K. Atwood Park and Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island, people must be at least six feet away from each other, or 10 feet away if they are under an umbrella or canopy. Face coverings are required for everyone on the beach, unless they are in the water. Six feet must be between persons, and no more than 5 people can gather in one area.
At Boca Chica Beach, cars must park 15 feet away from each other.
No contact sports, or sports involving a ball, are allowed in the parks.
Fishing is allowed on the Jetties and the surf in Isla Blanca Park, so long as people are more than 6 feet away from each other. Surf fishing is also allowed at all Cameron County coastal parks.
At Isla Blanca Park and Andy Bowie Park, only 50 percent of parking can be used. At Isla Blanca Park, that’s 600 cars. At Andy Bowie Park, that’s 125 cars.
The Andy Bowie North Park Flats, Public Beach Accesses 3,4, 5 and 6 have the same social distancing guidelines as the coastal parks. Beach vendors are not allowed to sell on the beach accesses until further notice.
All coastal park and beach access fees are still $12, and $5 for veterans.
The Jaime J. Zapata Memorial Boat Ramp, in Brownsville, and the Adoph Thomae, Jr. County Park, in Rio Hondo, now open, have the same social distancing guidelines as the coastal parks and beach accesses. Swimming, night fishing and overnight parking are not allowed.
County-wide, fishing from boats is allowed, so long as there are only two people on the watercraft. If occupants on the boat are from the same household, there can be four people on board.
Chartered fishing trips are also included in the new executive order.
For boats under 20′ feet in size, only one client, and the guide, are allowed on board. For boats larger than 20′ feet, the guide, plus two clients, are allowed on the watercraft. Facial coverings must be worn on the boat at all times, and filet tables can not be used. Fish must be taken home by guides or clients and filleted there.
Persons launching boats must be one vehicle length away from one another.
Test launches at SpaceX’s Boca Chica Beach facility are occurring throughout the next couple weeks. Those tests, Treviño said, will be in the evenings, so people can go to Boca Chica Beach undisturbed.
For church services, drive-through and virtual services are encouraged to continue, Treviño said. For churches who cannot provide either, they are allowed to hold in-person services with no more than ten people, practicing social distancing.
La Esperanza Park, Laureles Recreational Park, La Paloma Recreational Park, Santa Maria
Community Park, El Ranchito Recreational Park, El Ranchito Community Park, Santa Rosa
Community Park, Pedro (Pete) Benavides Recreational Park, and Bejarano-McFarland Park are open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The playgrounds, swimming pools and splash pads at some of these parks are closed indefinitely.
El Centro Cultural, Bob Clark Social Service Center, and Santa Maria Community Center are open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Rentals from the centers are suspended indefinitely.
The BISD Adult Continuing Education, Summer Program, Exercise Programs, Demonstration Cooking, and Arts & Crafts programs from these centers are cancelled indefinitely.
The county’s shelter-in-place order is still in effect until May 4, 11:59 p.m.
For the county’s coastal and community parks, a full list of restrictions can be found here.