MATHIS, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott's first phase to reopen the economy in Texas began Monday with the reopening of most state parks.
Texas state parks were shut down on April 7 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are some restrictions in place: The parks are day-use only, which means overnight camping is not allowed.
Reservations must be made online prior to entering the park.
Lake Corpus Christi State Park Superintendent Robbie Merritt stressed the importance of using the online system to guarantee entrance in the park.
"To try and protect the public and our staff, we're not doing any cash or credit card transactions here at the park," Merritt said. "So we're asking everyone to go online or download the state parks app and get their daily permits that way when they show up, it's a quick and easy check-in."
Merritt said the number of permits available to buy each day is limited.
"To guarantee your entrance each day, make sure you have that permit when you show up," he said.
Other guidelines are:
- Face coverings are required in state parks.
- Six-foot social distancing is required.
- Gathering of groups is limited to no more than five people.
"It has been a stressful several weeks going through the closure and now reopening, constantly managing the change that's happening." Merritt said. "We're happy to be here and it's nice to see people back in the park."
David Velasco has been visiting Lake Corpus Christi since he was a young boy and now takes his own children there. Monday, he was also happy to be back in the park.
"We were devastated when they said they were closing it down and we were ecstatic when they said they would open it back up," Velasco said. "The day they closed it -- we were here. The day they opened it -- we were here. "My son has been bothering me forever, he wants to go fishing. So we're here now."
Another park visitor, Jo Pelletier, was excited to go kayaking at the state park on Monday.
"We received an email that the state parks were opening for the day so we went online and registered for a day pass," she said. "We made sure that we followed the guidelines, wearing masks and having our own provisions like hand sanitizer. It's just really exciting! I think opening the parks was smart. I was surprised they closed them to begin with but we're really excited."
While most area state parks are welcoming visitors, Mustang Island State Park is not yet open.
Some park's regular hours may be affected by the changes.