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Barton Springs spillway closed after Austinites gather in groups amid social distancing, stay-at-home order

Austin Parks and Recreation said people were not allowing enough physical distance at "Barking Springs" to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Friday, Austin Parks and Recreation announced the spillway at Barton Springs in Austin, also known as “Barking Springs,” has been closed after people were gathering in groups, against the City’s stay-at-home orders.

“Park users were gathering in groups and not allowing enough physical distance to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Austin Parks and Recreation said.

The department urged Austinites to follow the City’s health guidelines, avoid team sports and leave six feet of distance when visiting parks.

On March 24, hours after Austin leaders announced they were placing a "stay-at-home" order in the city, a picture was posted on Facebook, showing dozens of Austin residents at the popular outdoor spot in Austin near Zilker Park and Lady Bird Lake. In the photo, which Cord Shiflet said he took between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m, people were seen standing, swimming and playing in close proximity to each other.

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Shiflet's post garnered thousands of shares, comments and reactions.

"Lockdown. Social distancing," the post read. "Working well I see. While you all are freaking out about the beaches in Florida....how about you freak out about our own backyard? This is Zilker Park about an hour ago. Not. Cool. The City of Austin's shelter-in-place orders begin tonight. Stay the hell at home. The Trail will be here for us all when we get through this difficult season. Protect your parents. Protect my parents ... "

Credit: Cord Shiflet
While everyone is being urged to stay home and practice social distancing, Austinites flocked to a watering hole often referred to as "Barking Springs" near Barton Springs Pool.

In a Q&A with KVUE on Wednesday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the City and Travis County could adopt stricter social distancing rules after such incidents.

"Social distancing is really the most important thing we can do," Adler told KVUE on Wednesday.

Adler said it was disappointing to see people gathering at parks, the Barton Springs spillway and playing basketball despite stay-at-home orders.

"These kinds of things really should stop," he said.

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