Environment

San Francisco draws circles in its parks to ensure social distancing

San Francisco, USA, May 22 (efe-epa).- With social distancing guidelines still in place and with warm weather forecast for the weekend, the Californian city of San Francisco has found a way to allow people to enjoy the outdoors while keeping their distance from each other: a series of circles, each of 3-meter diameter (10 feet), on its parks’ ground.

In Dolores Park, one of the most iconic parks of the city, located in the predominantly Latino neighborhood Mission District, one gets the sense that the grass has been replaced by a gigantic patterned carpet.

Dozens of white circles drawn with chalk, three meters in diameter and at a distance of two-and-a-half meters from each other, occupy much of the park’s green space, with a breathtaking view of downtown San Francisco in the backdrop.

The idea is that those who come to the park assign themselves a circle and do not step out of it ensuring that, at no time, are they less than two-and-a-half meters from other visitors.

Everything is allowed within the circle as long as it does not involve contact with the occupants of other circles – one cannot, for example, pass a ball from one circle to another -, but one can sunbathe, read, do stretches, juggle, smoke marijuana – legal throughout California – or chat with neighbors in other circles.

“I think it’s a good idea. It is not always easy to keep a distance and this helps, it allows you to visualize it very clearly. And they’re even pretty!” Yupta Gillis, a Mission District resident who took advantage of the sunny Friday morning to read the park told EFE.

The idea is to avoid a repetition of what happened on the last few weekends, when San Francisco’s parks were filled with people who did not respect social distancing norms and which led the city’s mayor, London Breed, to threaten to close Dolores Park in early May.

In addition to Dolores Park, the city has also drawn circles on the ground of other green areas popular with residents including Little Marina Green, Washington Square and Jackson Playground.

This being a holiday weekend – Monday is a holiday – and a forecast of high temperatures and hot weather for the city are both factors expected to result in a large turnout at the parks.

San Francisco, with 881,000 inhabitants, was the first major US city to decree a lockdown and epidemiological experts are in agreement that this decision was one of the key reasons for the reduced impact coronavirus has had within the city: since the onset of the health crisis it has recorded only 2,320 coronavirus infections and 40 deaths.

The US reached 1,590,349 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 95,495 deaths on Friday, according to the independent count kept by Johns Hopkins University. EFE-EPA

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