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Typhoon Texas addresses COVID-19 policies at park during sweltering weekend

The park posted a Facebook LIVE video Friday night that showed employees not wearing masks or social distancing.

KATY, Texas — Typhoon Texas, a water park with a location in Katy, addressed the park's COVID-19 health and safety policies on Saturday after staff posted a Facebook Live video Friday night that showed employees dancing on stage without masks and not practicing social distancing.

The video also shows a crowd of people watching the performance during an event, "Neon Night Part 2," from inside the park's wave pool. People on social media criticized the parkgoers for not practicing social distancing, as well as the park for not enforcing it.

Texas Department of State Health Services requirements state "employees must wear a face covering of their nose and mouth wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another individual not in the same household."

Saturday, the park hosted "Chill Down H-Town," another day with a variety of events in the park.

"We're remediating that and fixing it immediately," general manager Evan Barnett said of the employees, adding they will recommend they wear a mask.

The Facebook Live video is no longer posted on the park's page. Barnett said it was set to expire after a certain period of time.

Barnett said lifeguards who sit in stands are not required to wear a mask for their safety.

As for patrons, Barnett said the park is encouraging everyone to practice social distancing. Outside the park, they have designated areas for families to stand in socially distanced zones as they wait to enter the park.

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DSHS requirements state that all individuals age 10 and older must wear a face covering (over the nose and mouth) wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another individual not in the same household, except face coverings are not required while in a swimming pool, lake or similar body of water.

Barnett said inside the park, ultimately, the responsibility to enforce social distancing falls on the individual.

"Our stance on the fun throughout the park is that it takes two," said Barnett. "Our guests need to also take the initiative to enforce social distancing with all of the policies we have in place."

Saturday, some people visiting the park practiced strict social distancing. Others did not.

"It's very hard to police every single minute of the day. We have signage throughout the entire facility that allow what we encourage people to live by," said Barnett. 

The park is requiring advanced reservations, and only releasing enough tickets so that it maintains a 25 percent capacity throughout the day. Outdoor water parks are allowed to operate up to 50 percent capacity, per DSHS.

Those who purchased a pass and do not feel comfortable can push their pass to next year, Barnett said.

Park staff are frequently sanitizing all equipment, such as tubes, rafts, lifejackets  and other high-touch points.

The park has also implemented a "ride queue system." Each person who enters the park receives a "smart band," a waterproof electronic wristband that allows them to virtually hold their place in line, without standing in close proximity to others.

Certain rides require a certain number of people to ride, such as a tube meant for at least three people. If families are comfortable, they may join with a family from another household to participate in the ride, staff said.

"We understand that it is a privilege to be open," said Barnett. "You can trust us. We are doing our part to make sure people are safe."

The park plans to hold a "Neon Night Part 3" next Friday.