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COVID-19 And Businesses: Summer Winds Downs As Businesses, Stores, Parks Cautiously Move Forward

Businesses and city services for workers continued to adjust throughout the coronavirus crisis. As restrictions on the community changed to reflect current health conditions, businesses expanded hours, offered new retail services and looked for more employees.

Theme parks

San Antonio Zoo: The zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily to foot traffic and offer drive thru visits on Friday and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at sazoo.org.

Sea World San Antonio: The park and its water park Aquatica have more operating days and hours. Aquatica will stay open weekends through Oct. 18. The SeaWorld weekend schedule includes every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in September and October. Staffers will enforce enhanced health and safety protocols, including physical distancing, required face coverings and temperature screenings. Online reservations will also help manage capacity. Learn more here.

Morgan's Wonderland: The facility for special-needs visitors planned to remain closed for the rest of the 2020 season. "Interaction is at the heart of who we are and what we do," it explained in a statement on its website, "and until EVERYONE can play together again, we’ll continue interacting and making a difference -- from a distance."

Schlitterbahn: The water park has reopened in New Braunfels and Galveston. Visitors can expect health, safety and hygiene protocols in place. Guests will be required to make a reservation and must complete a health screening 24 hours before entering the water park. Staff and guests will have their temperatures screened upon arrival, and the park will include social distancing markers to help groups maintain six feet apart from others. Learn more about the reopenings here.

Six Flags-Fiesta Texas: The park reopened on June 19 for members and for the general pubiic on June 22.

Insurance

USAA: The San Antonio-based company returned $270 million in premiums to auto insurance policyholders. The nation’s fifth largest property-casualty insurer previously announced plans to return $800 million at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. The company reports fewer drivers means fewer accidents and fewer claims.

Requirements for businesses

On Friday, June 19, Bexar County began offering masks to businesses they could use to comply with County Judge Nelson Wolff's new executive order mandating businesses require customers to wear masks or a facial covering while in their establishments.

A few weeks later, the county issued another order requiring businesses to check the temperatures of workers and customers and to ask them if they have symptoms. Businesses must also display posters listing the symptoms of COVID-19 for everyone to review.

Each violation of the orders can result in a $1,000 fine.

The June 17 order can be viewed here. Businesses may download the face covering poster here and COVID-19 symptoms poster here.

Wolff said peace officers will issue citations for violations, and officers will respond to public complaints about a business. Sheriff Javier Salazar said peace officers are hoping for voluntary compliance, and business owners will be warned before receiving citations.

And on July 2, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order requiring Texans to wear a face masks in public spaces in counties with 20 or more COVID-19 cases, which includes Bexar County.

When asked for his response to the new statewide order, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said, "It's about time."

Wolff added that he hopes this new order also comes with the ability to enforce it with $5,000 fines.

Charities

Goodwill: Retail stores and donation locations in the San Antonio region are open. New safety measures include Plexiglass partitions at registers, social distancing markers, and limited capacity inside stories. Goodwill also offers contactless curbside pickup and online shopping. Goodwill is also collecting nonperishable food donations for the San Antonio Food Bank. Learn more here.

For more information about how to get help or how to help others, follow TPR's special blog about charities and special services.

Galleries

Blue Star Contemporary: It reopened on June 11. All visitors must schedule an online reservation prior to entrance. The art complex requires face masks for all guests older than ten and temperature checks before entry with a touchless thermometer. No large groups are allowed in, and social distancing is required.

Grocery / Retail / Pharmacies

Walmart: The chain offers a special curbside pickup hour for customers older than 60, first responders, disabled customers and anyone else the CDC considers high-risk for COVID-19. When customers visit the store website to place an order, they may select "At Risk Only" to opt into the service. In a statement, the store explained that the point of pickup would be contact-free. Store workers will place the groceries in the customers' vehicle, and no signature was required. Walmart hours at most locations are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

HEB: The grocery chain required all customers to wear masks, beginning June 22. HEB hours at most locations are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Target / Costco: Target hours at most locations are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Costco hours at most locations are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. All offer curbside shopping and/or reserved times for services for vulnerable guests.

Walgreens / CVS: They are generally open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., but some are open until midnight. Both pharmacy chains offer 24 hour shopping at select locations. Sunday and pharmacy hours are generally shorter. Both chains offer curbside and delivery.

Shopping mails: The major centers are open. Shopping hours vary from center to center and from store to store.
The Forum / The Rim / La Cantera / North Star Mall / South Park Mall / Ingram Park Mall / Rolling Oaks Mall / San Marcos Premium Outlets / Tanger Outlets

Airlines

Information based on airport press statements:

  • Aeromexico: The airline resumed service to Mexico City on June 18 with service three times a week: Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
  • American Airlines: American restarted its Miami service on June 5. Chicago O’Hare service resumed twice daily on July 8, while increasing the numbers of trips to Dallas and Phoenix.
  • VivaAerobus: VivaAerobus started nonstop service to Monterrey, Mexico, on July 3. Service will be on Fridays and Mondays.
  • Southwest Airlines: Southwest Airlines expects peak day departures on July 23.
  • Sun Country: Sun Country resumed service to Minneapolis/St. Paul on June 19 on Fridays and Mondays.
  • Alaska Airlines: Daily service to Seattle every day.
  • Allegiant Airlines: Continues to operate twice weekly service to Las Vegas and Orlando/Sanford.
  • Delta Airlines: Three daily flights to Atlanta.
  • United Airlines: Daily nonstop service to Denver and Washington-Dulles began on July 6, with Newark on July 7 and San Francisco in August or September.

Restaurants

Whataburger: Whataburger said employees must double wash their hands and use hand sanitizer every 30 minutes while on the job at their restaurants. The San Antonio-based burger chain continues to offer curbside pickup in addition to its drive-thru. Orders can be placed on online at Whataburger.com.

Restaurant information: To help keep local restaurants and the nearly 60,000 food service employees in the city afloat, NOWCastSA created this map. Get added by emailing news@nowcastsa.org with subject line, "AddMeToTheMap"

More restaurant resources: A website helped customers learn which restaurants and other food related businesses stayed open and offered takeout. SATakeOut.com provided an interactive map for San Antonians to locate eating establishments, their hours of operation and their food offerings. Hundreds of restaurants and food related businesses were listed. Restaurants not listed had the option of signing up at the website too.

City resources: The city also created a special website for restaurants, specifically for customers craving their favorite dishes. Check it out here. Restaurant owners may also add their establishments to the list. Businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak may find assistance from Culinaria Emergency Relief Fund, San Antonio Tip Jar, Bartender Emergency Assistance Program and Dining Bonds Initiative.

Funeral services

Porter Loring: Helen Loring Dear of Porter Loring Mortuaries said mourners may go to porterloring.com and upload pictures of themselves and messages. Both are printed up and placed on thick paper with faces on the front and messages on the back. Then they are placed in the pews at indoor services. The new practice was called From My Heart to Yours.

Mission Park Chapels and Cemeteries: The company offered drive-in funerals where mourners could watch services on a big screen from the comfort of their vehicles. Learn more about their services here.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.

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