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More parks close, more parks to close

Wednesday, April 8, 2020 by Elizabeth Pagano

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department continued its recent pattern of issuing increasingly strict rules for city-controlled parks on Tuesday, with an announcement that all city parks and trails will close over Easter weekend in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The new closures go into effect at sunset on Thursday, April 9, and will continue until sunrise on Monday, April 13.

According to the city, “This closure includes all city parks, trails, greenbelts and preserves – which includes the Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail.” View PARD’s interactive map of greenspaces that will be closed.

The city has already closed its recreation centers, cultural centers, museums, senior centers, aquatic facilities, Barking Springs, golf courses, tennis courts, playgrounds, the botanical garden, special event facilities and other park amenities.

The move to close parks on Easter weekend mirrors a similar effort by Travis County, which will also be closing its parks for the weekend. (View a list of those closures, and closures that will last beyond the coming weekend, on the county website.)

Additionally, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced Tuesday that state parks will be closed “in order to maintain the safest environment for visitors, volunteers and staff” under direction from Gov. Greg Abbott. A date to reopen the parks has not yet been established.

The announcement continued, “Despite the implementation of increasingly restrictive visitor use measures to help minimize the transmission of Covid-19 at parks, TPWD has reached a point where public safety considerations of those in the parks, and in the surrounding communities, must take precedence over continued operations. Difficulty in ensuring compliance with social distancing, problems in maintaining adequate supplies and keeping park facilities sufficiently sanitized are only a few of the challenges encountered by state park staff.”

Reservations and day passes purchased through the reservation system have been canceled through April 30 and will be refunded without penalty. There is no need to contact parks or the department to cancel reservations as TPWD will reach out to those awaiting refunds.

Despite the closures, state officials encourage residents observing stay-at-home orders to get outside.

“Outdoor recreational opportunities such as hunting, fishing, biking, jogging, walking, hiking, wildlife viewing and the like are essential activities for Texas citizens. TPWD will continue to do its part to actively encourage and promote these opportunities in ways that are safe and close to home,” said TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith.

Photo by Tdorante10/CC BY-SA 4.0.

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