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The City of San Antonio plans to open all libraries for pickup services on June 16 and open some public pools starting July 3, City Manager Erik Walsh said Thursday.
Twenty-nine libraries across the city will start offering contact-free pickup of library materials, and nine library branches will open their facilities to allow the use of their computers and the internet. Those branches include Westfall, Carver, Schaefer, Mission, Pan American, Cortez, Johnston, Bazan, and Collins Garden.
Eleven outdoor public pools will start with operating hours of 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the weekend and some weekdays; capacities will be limited to 25 percent. The pools that will reopen are San Pedro Park, Lincoln Park, Southside Lions Park, Kingsborough Park, Heritage Pool, Elmendorf Lake, Roosevelt Park, Cuellar Park, Woodlawn Lake Park, Spring Time Park, and Lady Bird Johnson Park. Six locations will be open Mondays and Wednesdays, and another five open Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The splash pads at Hemisfair’s Yanaguana Garden, Lincoln Park, Pearsall Park, Benavides Park, and Elmendorf Lake also will reopen July 3.
“We were deliberately conservative in this plan because we want to make sure that not only employees are safe, but visitors and consumers and customers are safe in our buildings,” Walsh said of the City’s broader return-to-work plan to restart most of its operations.
The phased reopening of public-facing City facilities follows the guidance issued by the COVID-19 Health Transition Team that outlines how to safely reopen businesses and amenities. While Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency orders allowed for reopening of restaurant dining rooms, shops, bars, and other businesses earlier than the transition team recommended, he allowed city governments to make their own decisions when it comes to city-owned facilities.
“We will utilize the progress and warning indicators that have been set here locally as well as the guidance from the state,” Walsh said.
In April, the City cut the entire summer programming budget, which includes funding for pool staff, training, and pool maintenance. The City’s budget team will restore $322,000 to operate the pools through Aug. 9.
Pools and libraries will open in phase two of the City’s return-to-work plan, which also will reopen some functions of the City Clerk’s office, municipal courts (using videoconferencing for trial hearings), and Neighborhood and Housing Services Department by appointment.
As the city enters phase three, which doesn’t have an estimated start date, residents will see basketball courts, playgrounds, fitness centers, skate parks, natatorium, and pools open at 50 percent occupancy. Other departments such as Center City Development and Operations, Finance, the Office of Historic Preservation, and the Development Services Department will reopen public-facing services.
“Phase four is really kind of a resumption to normal business,” Walsh said. “[It will] obviously be built on phase three and what happens from a public health standpoint and a safety standpoint.”
The City is planning changes to its workforce environment that include staggering shifts at its offices, adding Plexiglas sneeze guards where employees deal with members of the public, and physically spreading out workspaces. As City employees return to work, they will be required to wear face coverings where social distance cannot be achieved, Walsh said.
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Currently 2,304 of the City’s more than 12,000 employees are working from home and 538 have been redeployed to positions that address the pandemic.
If Bexar County sees a rapid influx in positive coronavirus tests and hospitalizations, then the City will need to rethink its reopening plan to protect residents, Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.
“The governor’s orders do hinder swift local action in the event it were necessary,” Nirenberg said. “We all have a job up here to protect the health and safety of our neighbors and our community first. If we were in a position where the state’s orders hindered our ability to do that, that is a legal test that we may eventually have to consider. Thankfully we’re not in that position.”
CORRECTION: Officials initially provided the incorrect reopening date for libraries. The correct date is June 16.