If you’ve been on the SMGA Facebook page, or you’re an SMGA member or a visitor peeking in, you’ve already decided that being outdoors is important for your physical and mental health. And you’re right.
From Hays County’s Declaration:
“All public or private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit are prohibited, but nothing in the Order prohibits the gathering of members of a household or living unit. People may still go outside to exercise – walking, hiking, running, dog-walking, etc. – provided they practice social distancing guidelines and keep six feet of space between themselves and others who do not live in their same households.”
So what should you know before you go out on the trail?
- It is legal.
April 2,2020, Mayor Jane Hughson published First Public Health Advisory Related to COVID-19. Section 3 iii addresses Essential activities: “Individuals may leave their house…To engage in outdoor recreational or fitness activity, provided the individuals comply with social distancing requirements of six feet (for example, walking, biking, hiking, or running).”
- Do not use trails if you have any symptoms or are not feeling well.
- Do NOT congregate in a parking lot or anywhere else in park. The purpose of the Stay Home Order is to MINIMIZE contact between individuals in order to stop the spread of the virus. The riverfront parks ARE closed; that was due to groups of people gathering there. The natural areas have remained open for hiking, biking, walking. Keep moving and then go home!
- Maintain 6 ft social distancing while using natural areas. Some say to imagine an adult bike between you. Better yet, imagine a medium sedan, bumper-to-bumper. (Reminder: Sound travels, so be aware when discussing sensitive or embarrassing stories even when practicing social distancing. It’s kind of like that loud person on a cellphone.)
- There are no longer any restrooms or drinking fountains at natural areas.
- ADA trails (Styxx and Prospect) are a bit wider for spacing but can also be more crowded. Make social distancing work with common sense and courtesy. Smiles are important here…
- Dog huggers! Maintain 6 feet distancing!
- Of course, follow the normal rules like no littering, pet care, if mud sticks to your shoes, turn around, etc.
- Our trails can be technical; use this time to enjoy the quietness of being focused on walking through rocks and roots and scattered leaves.
- Enjoy your walks and the normalcy they bring. The spring wildflowers are back, and it’s blindingly green out there!