Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced Wednesday that all county parks will be closed from Friday, April 10 until Monday, April 13 in an attempt to promote social distancing during Easter weekend, a time that’s typically popular for picnics and other family gatherings.
Hidalgo said she advised cities within the county to close their parks as well. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said later Wednesday that the city’s parks would remain open, but he reversed course Thursday and decided to close all 380 of the city’s parks as well as its hiking and biking trails from Friday through Sunday.
“We are at a critical moment in our fight against COVID-19, and we cannot afford to let our guard down,” Hidalgo said in a news release. “We’re heartened that the actions we’re taking are already saving as many as 4,500 lives across Harris County. For so many of our residents, Easter and Passover is a time for spiritual fellowship with others, and I want to encourage that to continue at home and online during this critical period. The sooner we come through this together, the faster we’ll be able to return to normalcy and get our economy back up and running again.”
Hidalgo said her decision was made after consulting the four Harris County commissioners — Jack Cagle, Rodney Ellis, Adrian Garcia and Steve Radack. Ellis in Precinct 1 and Cagle in Precinct 4 both represent area residents.
As of Wednesday, government officials had reported a total of 2,341 cases of COVID-19, the upper-respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus strain, among Houston and Harris County residents. The disease has led to 31 deaths among those residents, while a total of 358 have recovered.
In March, Hidalgo issued a stay-at-home, work safe order for the county, including the City of Houston, that is in effect through April 30. Per the order, residents must stay home except for essential reasons such as to exercise or obtain groceries, household items and medical care. Only businesses that are deemed essential are permitted to operate during the order, and all residents who are not part of the same household must maintain at least 6 feet of separation between each other.