Shying away from completely shutting down the city’s parks and trails, Austin will instead reduce parking availability at its parks and convert its most popular trail, the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail along Lady Bird Lake, into a one-way trail in an effort to mitigate potential gatherings.
The move comes as much of the city remains shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the highly contagious upper-respiratory illness that has halted much of daily life across the globe. The changes to the parks system will begin April 13 and be in full force by April 17, according to a press release from the Austin Parks and Recreation Department.
The city shut down all of its parks and trails over the Easter holiday weekend, a historically busy time for the city’s outdoor amenities. Speaking at a news conference on April 8, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he remained worried about crowds continuing to gather at the city’s parks and along its trails and he wanted the city to consider completely shutting down the parks and trails system indefinitely.
“Another place I’m concerned about are the people I see bunching up together on the trails ... or the people in the parks,” Adler said. “Quite frankly, I think we need to consider closing them down after [the holiday weekend] as well so that we really do show the discipline we need to show in this community.”
On April 12, area health officials said Travis County’s confirmed cases tally at 774, with 9 deaths and 140 recoveries.