Hundreds Line Up as Houston-Area Waterpark Defies Governor's Order to Reopen

A Houston-area waterpark reopened in defiance of state orders on Saturday, May 23, and attracted a line of hundreds of people, most of whom did not wear face-coverings or practise social distancing.

Waterparks across the state were prohibited from opening under Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order issued May 6 that aimed to limit the spread of coronavirus.

However, Big Rivers Waterpark in New Caney, northeast of Houston in Montgomery County, said it would open with at a “limited capacity” of 2,020 guests in the park at any one time. The waterpark’s CEO and developer Monty Galland told local media that staff would be required to wear face masks when interacting with the public.

Footage taken by Monya McDaniel from the morning of the reopening shows long lines. “There are four lines for entry here at Big Rivers and we all just found out all the season pass holders need to be ‘re-processed’ before we get in,” McDaniel said. “There is also a massive line out in the parking lot of non-season pass holders.”

Regarding social-distancing measures, McDaniel said staff had been telling people to keep apart from one another, but with little success.

As of May 23, Montgomery County had reported 888 cases of COVID-19 and 23 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Statewide, more than 53,000 cases had been reported, and 1,470 people had died, according to the data. Credit: Monya McDaniel via Storyful

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