NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas — Ahead of what’s sure to be a busy Memorial Day weekend, a video sent to KXAN shows dozens of people defying social distancing guidelines along Comal River in New Braunfels.
The video, sent to KXAN by Shon Warren, shows a dense crowd in the river near Float In restaurant last week.
Float In management declined to comment for this story.
Governor Greg Abbott’s phased effort to reopen the state requires people to observe social distancing guidelines and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household. While jail time can no longer be a punishment for violating health orders, local law enforcement can issue citations.
New Braunfels Police told KXAN that the department’s goal is to educate residents and visitors about social distancing guidelines. So far, no citations have been issued for violating social distancing guidelines.
A New Braunfels Police Dept. spokesperson provided this statement to KXAN:
“The City’s goal is to create an environment where social distancing is possible for those that choose to enjoy our local parks and rivers. However, visitors to those parks and rivers also have a personal responsibility to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and they should commit to following the Governor’s orders and safety precautions, including social distancing.”
Just down the river from Float In, Texas Tubes owner Coley Reno said he’s keeping groups to around five people to encourage social distancing. His staff cleans tubes and shuttles after every trip.
“This past week really has picked up,” Reno said. “Your personal responsibility is based on your thoughts. If you have a weakened immune system or you feel unsafe being out in public then you need to stay home.”
Visitors to the river told KXAN that they are happy to be outside and to break out of the mold of quarantine.
“I’m not really worried about the groups,” Kenyon Brandenburg said. “When it gets really packed I kind of stay distanced but really I’m not really worried.”
Reno will still encourage tubers to keep their distance but once they’re in the water, it’s out of his hands.
“If you’re not comfortable being out and about around people the best option is to just stay home,” Reno said.
New Braunfels Police will have extra officers on duty along the Comal and Guadalupe rivers for Memorial Day weekend.