City of Austin to extend stay-at-home orders, no plans to reopen public libraries, pools for weeks

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Daily COVID-19 cases have dropped slightly this week in Central Texas despite rising statewide, but for the past two weeks, Central Texas has averaged more than 80 new cases each day. This week, statistics show two people in Central Texas are dying of COVID-19 each day.

Even so, the next phase of reopening businesses in Texas is set for Friday. Hair, nail and tanning salons, barbershops, wedding venues and swimming pools will be able to reopen statewide. However, some businesses remain closed including bars, tattoo parlors, and massage businesses.

In Austin, some things that can open will not, according to city leaders. That includes swimming pools. That’s because there’s a disconnect between what Governor Greg Abbott said can reopen and what cities like Austin are choosing to reopen.

“We are not going to reopen anything more than what we have already open because we think that’s the safest thing to do,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said.

For the most part, closed Austin city offices will remain shut down, and city employees who can work from home will continue to do so. Adler said the stay-at-home extension could be released Thursday. Travis County leaders are also expected to extend their current stay-at-home order.

State and local leaders agree to keep municipal golf courses, city parks, and trails open unless they become overcrowded. However, as temperatures begin to heat up, many are curious to know if swimming spots like Barton Springs and Deep Eddy Pool will open. At this time, Adler said they do not plan to reopen those public spaces.

At present, the city is working on how to train lifeguards in a safe way during the coronavirus pandemic. Alder said at this time, his focus is on health and safety — not recreation.

“Everyone wants to see what the numbers look like, so the governor said a week ago we’re going to reopen some businesses and then will let the science and data tell us if we should go further seems to me that the governor has jumped the gun a little bit here,” he said.

Adler said he’s monitoring the data for the next three to four weeks to determine how the city should move forward.

On May 18, the state will open even more businesses including gyms and other workout facilities.

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