The decision was made a day after Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo closed all county-run parks for the same three-day weekend. Turner said that while he had previously resisted the idea of closing the parks, his decision was spurred by the fact the city of Houston reported 615 new positive coronavirus cases April 9, the highest jump to date.
The spike was largely due to a back log of test results coming from March, Houston Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. David Persse said.
"I just can't blindly ignore the number," Turner said. "Even though we have three labs reporting electronically results from March ... you make the adjustments based on what is presented."
All parks will remain closed from sundown April 9 through Sunday, April 13. About 100 of the city's 380 parks have lockable gates, Houston Parks Director Steve Wright said. The remaining parks will have barricade put in place or be patrolled by one of the city's 36 urban park rangers.
The Houston Police Department is also in direct communication with the urban park rangers to assist with enforcement. In most cases, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said a verbal warning to park goers will be sufficient but fines and arrests are possible when necessary.
After the weekend, the parks may return to operation with the same social distancing rules in effect.