EL PASO, Texas -- The state of Texas has officially begun taking steps to slowly reopen as the state continues to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
While many state parks are beginning to reopen, El Paso will not see the Franklin Mountains or Hueco Tanks reopen locally. Statewide others will remain closed as is the case with the Big Bend National Park. Mayor Dee Margo says the reason those will remain closed is because of the strain mountain rescues place on resources.
"The reason they have not been open yet is because in the two weeks prior to the stay at home order we had five mountain rescues here. Every-time we have a mountain rescue it takes up to 40 fire-rescue personnel to get that person off the mountain and we don't have the man power during this pandemic to be spending it out there," Margo said.
But there is a change that will be coming as the city begins to follow with the governor's idea to begin reopening Texas. City officials are looking to ensure the walking paths are available to those who look to use them without putting themselves at risk.
"Those are ok, the mayor has advised, because you have to travel on those pathways to get to different essential facilities. Those are ok to walk along, as long as you are following the CDC guidelines and not walking right next to each other - you’re still acknowledging the six foot distance," said city spokeswoman Laura Cruz Acosta.
Joggers and cyclists seemed excited about the idea, believing that the walking trails should be open for exercise.
"It doesn’t make sense because if you can walk on the sidewalk you should be able to walk on a hiking trail. There’s no more social distancing here than there is on the sidewalk, actually that trail is bigger than the sidewalk," observed one local jogger.
While these areas will reopen, it is important to note that social distancing will continue to be enforced. Officials also asked that people use a face covering when they are out on the walking paths.
"It all comes down to common sense, don’t bring grandma and grandpa with you please. They should be able to limit their activity to stay indoors, they are at high risk," Cruz Acosta said. "If you look at the death rate, the numbers are concerning because it is grandma and grandpa that are getting the worst of it because they pass away."