AUSTIN, Texas - This week, pools have started to reopen across Austin, but not all of them are open and those that are have new rules visitors much comply with before jumping in.
Swimmers at Big Stacey Pool got in the water early Wednesday. Those who got in appreciated the opportunity to swim a few laps.
Big Stacey, one of the few pools Austin Parks and Recreation has open for use from 6 a.m. to noon, is among four city pools that do not require a reservation to get in; Rosewood, Shipe and Govalle also don't require reservations. There are capacity limits and health screenings, and a face covering is to be worn when not in the water.
Iconic locations like Barton Springs Pool and Deep Eddy will open next week, and reservations there will be required. Bartholomew, Garrison, Mabel Davis, Northwest and Walnut Creek also will require reservations. Each site has a limited number of days they're open and limits on how long visitors can stay.
Health screenings will be done 30 minutes before reservation times start, and pools will be cleared 15 minutes before the end of each two-hour sessions to clean and disinfect between guests.
A shortage of lifeguards has forced PARD to keep several pools closed. There are a little more than 500 openings. Starting pay is at $15 an hour, but officials say the problem is not compensation, just a case of bad timing.
"Currently right now the city is on a city-wide hiring freeze, that's the reason we don't have enough lifeguards, available, we had to stop training and stop hiring lifeguards about spring break this year, so until that hiring freeze is lifted and we can hire more lifeguards we will not be able to open additional pools," said Jodi Jay, PARD aquatic division manager.
Splash pads will remain closed, not because of the lifeguard shortage, but because of the concern that they can increase the risk of COVID-19 exposure to young children.
Rec centers are also closed. There is a plan in the works to reopen several in July under a modified summer camp program. Details are still being worked out and refunds are being given to those who signed up before the outbreak.
Open park amenities include the Butler Hike & Bike Trail and the Barton Springs Spillway, as well as disc golf, tennis courts, and outdoor volleyball and basketball courts. Park pavilions are open, but will not be rented out. Modified use and reduced capacity locations are at the Zilker Botanical Garden and Mayfield Park.
Those wanting to use the pools and park facilities are reminded that there is no access to showers or lockers. It's recommended visitors check the city website for rules and hours of operation before just showing to any location.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.