New Braunfels closes river parks and cancels fireworks; council member quarantined

As the local spike in coronavirus cases accelerated, city officials dealt with the pandemic on numerous fronts. (Warren Brown/Community Impact Newspaper)
As the local spike in coronavirus cases accelerated, city officials dealt with the pandemic on numerous fronts. (Warren Brown/Community Impact Newspaper)

As the local spike in coronavirus cases accelerated, city officials dealt with the pandemic on numerous fronts. (Warren Brown/Community Impact Newspaper)

It was an eventful week at New Braunfels' City Hall.

On June 22, the scheduled City Council meeting was postponed due to a possible COVID-19 exposure and a council member began self-isolating while he awaited the results of a COVID-19 test, according to a statement from City Manager Robert Camareno.

"Despite all the safety methods that are being followed, this disease is still easily spread and everyone, city officials included, are susceptible to transmission," Camareno said. "Due to this potential exposure and following city protocols, a small number of city staff were directed to self-isolate and work from home while awaiting the results of their own tests."

The announcement came the week after a city-run summer camp was closed following positive tests from two camp counselors.

"As a precautionary measure, the mayor decided to transition to online meetings," Camareno said. "City leadership and elected officials are not immune to this pandemic."

The City Council meeting, rescheduled for June 29, will be held via Zoom.

On June 23, Mayor Rusty Brockman signed an executive order requiring face coverings for all visitors to public-facing businesses and all employees working in close proximity to others.

The announcement came after two weeks of increased reports of the virus spreading in the city.

“Making this decision on behalf of our community is not something that I take lightly," Brockman said in a statement. "But this order comes after a lot of consultation with local health authorities, business leaders, city staff, and fellow council members."

According to the Comal County Office of Public Health, there were 406 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 among New Braunfels area residents as of June 26, up from 54 at the end of May.

On June 24, the city closed Landa Park Golf Course due to a staffing shortage after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus, requiring other employees to self-quarantine.

On June 26, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that closed all rafting and tubing businesses in the state, effective immediately.

The order also closed bars to the public, capped dine-in service at restaurants at 50% capacity and created a requirement for outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people to be approved by local governments.

Bars are still permitted to remain open for delivery and take-out, including for alcoholic beverages.

Water parks such as Schlitterbahn are allowed to remain open at 50% capacity.

In response to Abbott's order, the city of New Braunfels closed all river parks along the Comal River and Guadalupe River on June 26 at noon. A reopening date was not announced.

Prince Solms Park, Hinman Island, River Acres Park and Cypress Bend Park closed accordingly.

Other city-owned riverfront property controlled or maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department closed as well, including the wading pool in Landa Park, the Garden Street Exit, the Last Public Exit and the area under the Faust Street Bridge, according to a press release issued by the city.

The Fourth of July fireworks display at Landa Park also fell under the axe. The Fourth of July parade had previously been canceled due to social distancing concerns.

By Warren Brown
Warren joined Community Impact at the beginning of 2020 as the editor of its New Braunfels paper and now reports the news in San Marcos, Buda and Kyle. Warren previously wrote for the Dallas Observer and Fort Worth Weekly and he brings a passion for truth and equality to his reporting.


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