The Austin Chronicle

Temporary, But Indefinite: Texas State Parks Close Tonight

By Kimberley Jones, April 7, 2020, 9:36am, Newsdesk

So far in the ongoing coronavirus crisis, Texas’ state parks have stayed open, clocking in March 740,000 day and overnight visitors seeking the physical and mental health benefits of nature. Effective 7pm today (April 7), public health demands a shutdown of all state parks.

That decision comes at the direction of Gov. Greg Abbott, and is in line with other public safety measures taken to try to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. A morning announcement from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department explained: “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.

“While parks are closed to the public, staff will be working to help maintain the standard upkeep, maintenance, stewardship, and continued regular cleaning of site facilities.”

TPWD has not set a reopening date.

Travis County parks will see further restricted access this week as well. With many parks already completely closed, and all park facilities – including but not limited to playgrounds, restrooms, and water fountains – inaccessible, all remaining parks will close Thursday, April 9, at 8pm for the duration of Easter weekend, a historically busy time at parks which would be at cross-purposes with social distancing requirements. After Easter, the Travis County Parks website allows that “some parks may reopen again for limited activities,” but a morning press release from the city was more emphatic: “Park green space and trails will reopen at sunrise, Monday, April 13.”

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