NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – Groups gathered around the Comal River after river parks and recreation in New Braunfels reopened to the public Friday.
“America’s going back to work. We’re going tubing,” said Samuel Morrell.
Morrell said he was recently furloughed from his job and has spent the majority of his time at home.
“I think it’s beneficial to everyone’s mental health. I think just sitting in the house all is not good,” he said.
However there are new limitations and restrictions aimed at protecting the health and safety of the public.
"Following the Governor’s orders, we are encouraged to see our community begin to reopen. Our goal is to create an environment where social distancing is possible while enjoying our beautiful parks and rivers. However, park-goers also have a responsibility to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and should commit to following the Governor’s orders and safety precautions, including social distancing,” said New Braunfels Mayor Barron Casteel in a statement.
River outfitters were also eager to get back to everyday life. Coley Reno is the owner of Texas Tubes, which is located along the Comal River.
The business has been in operation for more than 20 years, but this was the first they were forced to close during a busy season.
Reno said it was financially devastating for his staff, but they’re ready to get back to work.
“It just felt good to be here and see people”, Reno said.
Texas Tubes and other river outfitters have worked with city leaders to determine the best way to continue operation. Tubes are disinfected and only used once a day.
Reno said it’s a new way of life along the river.
“When you do open up, these are some protocols we need to have,” he said.
Here are the new guidelines for river parks & river recreation:
- River parks will have limited hours of operation, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.
- Park-goers must continue to follow social distancing guidelines as outlined by the governor.
- River outfitters are required to follow the governor’s guidelines for their operations, including social distancing, occupancy restrictions, and disinfecting of equipment.
- Regular picnic fees and parking fees will be in effect.
- Prince Solms Park, Hinman Island, and the City Tube Chute will reopen Friday (May 8) with limited capacity.
- Floating under the San Antonio Street Bridge remains closed due to the ongoing bridge reconstruction project and the Last Public Exit will remain closed, therefore tubers should expect an abbreviated float.
- Life jackets will be available, but there will be no lifeguards on duty this weekend. When lifeguards do return to duty in the lead up to Memorial Day weekend, they will follow refined protocols to limit physical interaction while performing lifeguard duties.
- Cypress Bend Park and River Acres Park will reopen Saturday (May 9) with limited capacity
- Das Rec is tentatively scheduled to reopen on May 18th.
- The Landa Park Aquatic Center is tentatively scheduled to reopen on June 1st so that the facility is adequately staffed with trained lifeguards in an effort to open most or all of the facility to guests.
- The Landa Park Train, Mini Golf Course, paddleboats, playground and playscape equipment, the skatepark, and Fischer Park splash pad remain closed.