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A theme park, water park and 1.5 million square feet to social distance in, oh my!
Kalahari Resort in Round Rock officially opened today, declaring itself the biggest indoor water park in the world, right here in the Lone Star State.
The resort, located on 3001 Kalahari Blvd., features over 900 hotel rooms, five restaurants, retail locations, a convention center, a safari-themed 223,000-square-foot indoor water park—the largest in the world; and three acres of outdoor pool space.
This is Kalahari Resorts & Conventions fourth location and first in Texas with the others located in Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The new $350 million facility created more than 700 jobs and is set to welcome upwards of a million guests in the coming year.
While the resort can normally house up to 8,000 guests, the resort will not book more than 3,000 at a time during the pandemic. Guests are required to wear masks while not in the pool.
Health officials have stated that while there isn't evidence COVID-19 spreads through recreational water, there is always potential when people gather. For extra precautions, only 500 people will be allowed in the water park at any time and social distancing guidelines will be observed on all rides. For extra protection, the CDC has a page specifically dedicated to water park safety.
Kalahari Resorts seek to combine a safari adventure and indoor water parks all in one place. With spas, restaurants, themed environments, convention centers and more on deck, Kalahari provides fun for the whole family. In addition to the fun, Kalahari shares the beauty of Africa with care by supporting African artists and artisans and sponsoring the Mandela Poster Project. So far, Kalahari has spent $5.5 million on African-local products.
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment benefits related to the pandemic effective June 26, citing the number of current job openings and concern about potentially fraudulent unemployment claims. The benefits include a $300 weekly supplement.
"The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring communities across the state," Abbott said in a statement. "According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment jobs."
TWC listed 837,273 job openings as of Monday afternoon compared to 226,849 unemployment insurance claims filed statewide between March 31 and May 1. An estimated 1 million Texans were unemployed as of March, according to latest estimates released by the state agency.
Some local business owners, including Doc's Backyard Grill owner Charles Milligan, suspect unemployment benefits are deterring Austinites from returning to work. But others agree with economists who say multiple factors are at play, including health concerns and child care availability.
We're seeing lots of posts about how nobody wants to work right now. Just wanted to share our experience.
We received over 60 resumes for a taproom bartender position we posted last week. Every applicant we've set up an interview with has shown up.
People want 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 work.
— Austin Beerworks (@AustinBeerworks) May 11, 2021
Abbott also cited fraudulent unemployment claims. Between March 2020 and April 2021, TWC received 4.48 million unemployment benefit applications, 611,000 or around 14% of which were tagged as suspicious. Most of those tagged were blocked before any benefits were paid out, according to an April 29 press release.
Federal law requires the effective date of such benefits change to be at least 30 days after the U.S. Department of Labor is notified.
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Is it just us, or is the current Austin mask situation confusing? Are we supposed to wear a mask or not, and where? And should we wear one anyway, even if not requested or required?
Austin health orders requiring masks expire Tuesday. What then?
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