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Groups Of San Franciscans Gather At Parks On Sunny Easter Day Despite Shelter-In-Place

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- A gorgeous Easter Sunday provided a challenge for people in San Francisco trying to shelter in place in an ongoing effort to mediate the coronavirus pandemic.

Dolores Park was not packed like sardines as it normally, but it wasn't a ghost town, either. As people picnicked on the grass and strolled on the sidewalk they really did seem to make an effort to keep away from others.

San Francisco police officers occasionally drove by to announce that everyone sitting on the grass in the park should go home.

Park Rangers also walked through, reminding parkgoers that the city is sheltering in place because of the coronavirus.

Not-so-social distancing on easter dolores park (CBS)
A group sits together on the grass of a San Francisco park, not quite abiding by the social distancing guidelines (CBS)

"You see everyone spaced out and they're not being willy nilly about it," said Nikki Poppiti who found it hard to resist enjoying some sunshine on the grass.

"I saw people and it was sunny out and I was like, 'I will maintain my distance, I'll work on my laptop. But I want to not be alone with just my thoughts and my overpriced one bedroom that I share with four other people,'" she said with a laugh.

At Golden Gate Park and Washington Square in North Beach, there were similar scenes of people attempting to keep six feet of social distance, but it wasn't always possible.

The rule is unless you are deemed an essential worker, you are still required to stay in your house unless you are going to the store or pharmacy or getting some exercise. Otherwise, officials said there's a real danger that the number of COVID-19 cases could increase sharply after all.

"The people of San Francisco have been unbelievable, but we should not rest on our laurels," said San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who was shocked to see crowds picnicking in Washington Square.

Many state and county parks are closed across the Bay Area. Not every city park is closed, however, as officials said they are trying to allow folks an escape valve for exercise--but within reason.

"We first closed down the play structures, then we closed the tennis courts," Peskin said. "If a bunch of ding dongs keep this up, we'll have to put red tape around Washington Square and I don't want to do that. So just cut it out, please?"

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