San Marcos reopens parks with warnings against large gatherings

Tubers float through the San Marcos River near a bridge

Daryl Ontiveros

On Sept. 16, 2020, San Marcos reopened all riverfront parks, public facilities, athletic complexes, neighborhood park playgrounds, tennis and basketball courts.

Timia Cobb, News Contributor

San Marcos and other Hays County cities reopened several public spaces and parks Sept. 16 with warnings against gathering in large groups and without enforcement policies.

Hays County’s lead Epidemiologist Eric Schneider responded to concerns revolving around the decision to reopen, asking that residents keep parties to just people within their direct household.

“We want everybody to enjoy our beautiful parks that we do have here in Hays County,” Schneider said. “But, we do want to keep in mind that COVID-19 is still around, and many people do not show signs and symptoms and may not even know they are sick. No reason to have large gatherings just because the parks opened back up.”

Parks such as Five Mile Dam Park are now open and operating at regular hours. Each park will have signs in place encouraging social distancing and mask usage, but Schneider says there are currently no enforcement policies for violating gathering rules.

“If we do start to spike again, there’s a chance that we might have our elected officials have to step in again and regulate which businesses are allowed to be open,” Schneider said. “If things get severe enough, it could turn into law enforcement, code enforcement [having to] step in [and] start issuing fines to people who are violating social gathering rules.”

Despite the possibility of violations, Schneider says he does not want to restrict people’s freedoms but needs community members to understand that COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon.

“Be aware and be mindful that every step that [is taken] to help prevent yourself from getting this disease also helps prevent spreading it to anybody else,” Schneider said.

Kim Hilsenbeck, Hays County human resources communications manager, says she hopes citizens spread the word about the risks of socializing in large groups.

“We hope that everybody takes this very seriously,” Hilsenbeck said. “We hope that folks in particularly younger age categories, who seem to be the folks with the highest number of cases, just be cautious.”

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