The city of San Antonio has moved into Phase 3 of a four-phase return-to-work program, reopening certain public venues with COVID-19 safety measures and protocols.
City Manager Erik Walsh on Monday, Sept. 21, announced timelines for reopening several city services and facilities, including park amenities, senior and convention centers, with many operating at reduced capacities.
City officials said indicators currently show the lowest risk level (“safe”) for transmission of the coronavirus. These departments and services will reopen as follows:
Parks and Recreation: Basketball courts, skate parks, playgrounds, sports fields and fitness stations are now open. The 10-person limit at city parks and plazas has been lifted, and reservations for outdoor park amenities is now open. This includes Main Plaza and Hemisfair.
Special events in city parks are permitted with a maximum attendance of 250 through December 2020. Indoor facilities, including community and adult/senior centers, clubhouses, the San Antonio Natatorium (indoor pool) and gyms will stay closed for now. Splashpads remain closed until March 2021.
- Reservations for indoor spaces start on Nov. 16 with a maximum of 50 people;
- Daytime virtual learning hubs will open in eight locations with an anticipated capacity of 50 participants;
- Adult senior centers open by Nov. 9 with reduced capacity;
- Natatorium will open by Nov. 16 with a modified operating schedule;
- Urban Ecology Center at Hardberger Park will open by Nov. 16 with a maximum capacity of 50;
- Outdoor pools will resume seasonal operations (May–August;
- Ron Darner Reservations Office and Enrique Barrera Fitness Center will reopen by Oct. 31.
- Fitness in the Park programming will resume by Oct. 31.
Municipal Court: Effective Oct. 19, the court will partially reopen, with modified in-person services for a limited number of appearances and hearings.
In addition, court users will still have contact-free services available. Efforts will be made to settle uncontested cases remotely. Uncontested proceedings that cannot successfully be conducted virtually will be done in-person.
Non-jury contested cases will be heard and jury contested cases will be set in Phase 4 of re-openings. Attorneys will have access to all public services, as well as the Attorney Connect online service.
Convention Sports Facilities: The Alamodome is now open with a reduced capacity of 17%, and Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center is open with a reduced average capacity of 25% or less. Lila Cockrell Theatre and Jo Long Theatre at Carver Center each have a reduced occupancy of approximately 15 percent.
Pre-K4SA: Instructional staff returned on Sept. 8, implemented a phased approach to bring back students who elected in-person learning. Classroom sizes are fixed at six or fewer students per classroom.
San Antonio Public Libraries: Curbside services continue with managed access and limited hours (40 hours/week) at nine locations for internet usage. A timeline of reopening from the library will be shared later this month.
City Clerk: Effective Oct. 1, Vital Records Office and passport services will partially reopen with increased capacity of 25% in the lobby. These services are currently available by appointment only.
Neighborhood and Housing Services: Effective Oct. 19, the following programs will partially open by appointment only: emergency housing and assistance, Under 1 Roof, green and healthy homes, minor home repair and owner-occupied rehabilitation programs.
Servicing for these programs remains at the Financial and Housing Resource Recovery Center. On-site eviction court team support continues to be provided at the Bexar County Justice of the Peace Courthouses 1-4.
Department of Human Services: Effective Nov. 9, senior centers will re-open to public at reduced capacity (25% initially) with a staggered schedule based on center capacity. Part-time nutrition sites remain closed. Virtual programming will continue, and meals will continue to be distributed curbside.
Development Services and Office of Historic Preservation: By Oct. 19, the Development Services One Stop Center on South Alamo Street will increase customer intake to no more than 30 customers in the building.
Customers will be serviced by the open public counter with clear barriers and other personal protective equipment. These services are currently available by appointment only.
During the latest COVID-19 briefing, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said Monday that “our success and safety depend on you minding those San Antonio Metro Health and public health authorities’ guidance, which is wearing a mask, keeping physical distancing, and avoiding large congregations.”
It’s been two weeks since the Labor Day holiday weekend, and local officials said they would monitor any spike in new positive cases that might emerge from the typical two-week virus incubation period.
Anita Kurian, Metro Health assistant director, said Monday that there remains a multi-day lag between someone feeling symptomatic, testing for COVID-19 and public health authorities releasing the newest positive case numbers.
“We are past the two weeks, but factor in the seven to 10 days (lag time in reporting), if we don’t see a spike, it’s safe to assume we are out of the woods,” she added.