HOUSTON - On Monday, Texas State Parks re-opened across the state. It’s Governor Greg Abbott’s first step towards re-opening Texas businesses impacted by Coronavirus COVID-19.
In a press release sent out by Texas Parks and Wildlife, a spokesperson says while parks are also new restrictions in place.
“Per Governor Abbott’s direction, new restrictions in effect include requiring visitors to wear face coverings and maintain a six-foot distance from individuals outside of their party, and prohibiting the gathering of groups larger than five.,” said a Texas Parks and Wildlife spokesperson. “TPWD recommends visitors continue to adhere to local, state and federal travel restrictions and other guidance for safety and social distancing before traveling.”
On Monday, we visited Sheldon Lake State Park located in northeast Houston. While there were many visitors there, the park was not overwhelmed.
“[We’ve] been inside for a while now,” said Preston Perigen, a park guest. “It gets a little monotonous.”
For nearly 2 weeks Texas State Parks have been closed. Texas State Parks closed their gates on April 7.
“State parks are re-open,” said Sue Elliott. “I just thought it would be a good way to mingle but not too close.”
Posted signs remind guests to stay 6 feet apart from one another. While visitors are required to wear face coverings, many people were seen without them.
“I thought I would be out here in the open and wouldn’t be around people,” said Elliott. “I wasn’t as diligent about not having it with me.”
While parks are now open for guests during business hours, overnight camping hasn’t resumed yet.
“Visitors planning on coming to a state park are encouraged to bring all necessary provisions, such as hand sanitizer and face masks, with them in order to help local businesses have enough goods to properly serve their communities during this time,” said a TPWD spokesperson. “This will also help park staff have necessary supplies available for all guests during their stay.”
Many families we met Monday seemed excited to be returning to Texas State Parks while also maintaining social distancing.
“It’s been a lot of homeschooling,” said Byron Anderson, a park guest. “A lot of walks. Luckily, we’re finally able to come back to the parks.”
“It’s beautiful,” said Elliot. “You can see all around. It’s like a mini-vacation.”