Public parks are closing for the Independence Day weekend to stop large crowds from gathering as coronavirus cases continue to soar in San Antonio.

The City and Bexar County on Thursday announced the closing of all City parks starting just before midnight that day and all County parks starting 9 a.m. Friday. City parks will reopen 5 a.m. Monday, with County parks reopening at 9 a.m. that day.

The City’s Howard W. Peak Greenway Trails network remains open this weekend, with trail users directed to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others.

“With the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to surge in San Antonio, we need the public’s support to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus,” City Parks Director Homer Garcia III said in a prepared statement. “Temporarily closing public parks this weekend emphasizes the importance of staying home, wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing, and avoiding gatherings with people outside your immediate household.”

On Thursday, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District reported 374 new cases, bringing the number of those still considered ill to 7,613. Nearly 12,900 Bexar County residents have tested positive for the virus, with 5,150 recoveries and 115 deaths.

Normally a time of outdoor gatherings, barbecues, and front porch firecracker shoot-offs, Independence Day is the second holiday weekend to see park closures since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in San Antonio in mid-March. Officials also shut down parks during Easter Weekend, another time when people tend to gather in large groups in public parks.

San Antonio River Authority officials announced their own park closures this week. Confluence Park, River Crossing Park, and many facilities such as pavilions along the Mission Reach are closed from Friday morning through Monday morning. The authority also closed its Graytown Park and John William Helton San Antonio River Nature Park in Wilson County.

Hike and bike trails along the Mission and Museum reaches of the San Antonio River remain open, officials said Thursday.

CPS Energy also closed its Braunig and Calaveras lakes in South Bexar County, along with their lakeside parks. The lakes closed at 8 p.m. Thursday and will reopen Monday at 6 a.m.

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Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons is a former senior reporter at the San Antonio Report. He is an environmental journalist for Oil & Gas Watch.