SAN ANTONIO - City and county parks are set to close Thursday night and Friday morning; but will there be consequences if people do not abide by those rules?
"Celebrate at home only with those that live in your home. We've closed city parks, we've closed county parks,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
In 2020, Fourth of July celebrations will look a lot different as several firework shows have been cancelled or postponed in addition to parks closing.
County parks are set to close on Friday at 9:00 a.m. and reopen on July 6, 2020 at 5:00 a.m. to the public. City parks are set to close Thursday at 11:59 p.m. and will reopen on July 6, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. to the public.
The closures beg the question - will people listen?
"I think we're just going to have to take care of ourselves police ourselves and hopefully if you see your neighbor doing something kind of crazy be like, ‘Hey, you know what it's not safe’,” said San Antonio resident Ed Navarro.
Navarro and his family were at a park earlier Thursday afternoon, wearing their masks. He said they were getting a few hours of walking in before they closed overnight.
"We're at a very critical juncture for our community. This has been a very different outbreak because it is contagious before symptoms,” said Dr. Jan Patterson with UT Health San Antonio.
Dr. Patterson also helped to treat SARS in Canada. She said the biggest difference is SARS did not show evidence of spreading before symptoms appeared whereas COVID-19 does. She said as a result, limiting the amount of people gathering together pays a big role in keeping the public safe.
"This year I can't think of anything more patriotic than watching our distance, maintaining social distancing, staying within our households and staying within our social bubble,” said Dr. Patterson.
We reached out to officials to see how these rules will be enforced.
“Our Parks Police Department will be continuing to patrol city parks, along with SAPD Bike Patrol Unit. As in all situations, Officers who observe violations will have the discretion to issue citations or make the appropriate decision given that specific situation. Citizens are asked to report city parks violations at 210-207-SAPD.”
The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office said it will be available to assist with any call if asked but deputies will likely be dispatched to county parks.
The deputies will first educate and ask for voluntary compliance before they cite someone. They said citing someone is a last case scenario.
Connie Swann with San Antonio Parks and Recreation said the rules and consequences are like those implemented when parks were closed during Easter.
Mayor Nirenberg said the primary reason to close parks is because we will not be able to withstand a surge two weeks after the Fourth of July if people do not follow these new guidelines and restrictions.