Austin parks a popular choice as virus reality sets in

Investigations

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s parks have become an escape for many who are getting cabin fever.

“Just trying to get fresh air,” said Frank Dealmeida, who was fishing.

City parks have been noticeably more crowded this week.

Friday was a rainy, chilly day, and people were still out in sizable numbers on the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail.

“I see a lot of families walking around, walking their dogs, there’s been a lot of people,” said Sam Wooding. “I’m just trying to get out of the house.”

While government and business alike shuts down around the city, some have reached out to KXAN and asked what will happen at parks.

The city has closed certain PARD facilities such as golf courses and swimming pools but is not taking any extra protocols at most of its open park space, which is still open to the public.

City officials say people are less likely to be clustered together in parks, but they also don’t want to discourage personal responsibility and hygiene.

The Parks and Recreation Department says it echoes the standard public health recommendations:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Those who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness, including individuals over 65 or with underlying conditions such as heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, should consider working remotely or staying home
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth

A city spokesperson also said they recommend washing your hands after you touch something, like a park bench or a water fountain.

If bathrooms at city parks are closed, it’s for reasons not related to the coronavirus.

“Whenever I go to a public place, after I leave I’ll put on hand sanitizer and wash my hands,” said Wooding.

The following PARD facilities have been closed since Monday, March 16:

  • All PARD recreation centers (except the spring break camps – additional information below)
  • All PARD cultural centers (except the ESB-MACC spring break program – additional information below)
  • All PARD museums
  • All PARD senior centers
  • All PARD aquatic facilities
  • All PARD golf courses
  • All PARD tennis centers
  • Zilker Botanical Garden
  • Zilker Caretaker Cottage
  • All PARD special event facilities

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