SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – As thousands flocked to Bay Area beaches and parks on Memorial Day, most seemed determined to practice social distancing and usually succeeded.
The view of Ocean Beach from the Cliff House at mid-afternoon provided an example of that effort, as large swaths of sand were evident between groups of people sitting on the beach.
Still, the view was alarming for some, at least at first glance.
“I thought maybe half the city didn’t get the memo on social distancing,” said May Samali who was jogging Monday alongside the beach on the Great Highway. “But on closer inspection, it looks like people might be keeping 6 feet apart. But I have to say, it’s a bit of a shock to the system. I just haven’t seen so many people in one space for many months.”
“It is too soon for everybody to be out here,” said Jonah Watkins of Oakland, whose friend Charles Foreman joined him on the beach but had a different point of view.
“I feel like we’re safe because we’re about 6 feet from everybody,” Foreman said.
At the south end of Ocean Beach, police and SFMTA parking control officers wrote parking citations on dozens of cars along the Great Highway at Sloat Boulevard. The tickets cost $106 dollars each.
“It’s a hazard,” said SFPD Officer Gian Tozzini. “Fire crews can’t get in and lifeguards [need] to get to the beach. It’s clearly posted: ‘no parking any time,'” Tozzini said.
While the street signs are clear, the message about what’s okay to do and not to do in terms of COVID-19 is now a little murky.
Officials are encouraging people to go outside and exercise and shop for food and clothes curbside, but they are also telling people they should stay inside.
“We understand that people want to enjoy the great weather and spend time with friends and family,” reads a statement from San Francisco’s Emergency Operations Center. “However, the fact remains that the Stay Home Order is still in effect, and the virus continues to circulate in our community.”
That ambiguity is leaving some people to decide what’s comfortable for themselves.
“If you’re going to be out here, if you’re going to be among people, then I think a mask is going to help you out,” said Al Urb, who was wearing a mask.
“It doesn’t give me a negative sentiment if I don’t see someone wearing it like, on the street,” said Tad Perez.
Nilu Rafsanjani said she is unsure if the scene at Ocean Beach was going to cause any more problems than other aspects of life during the COVID-19 era.
“Are we really distancing? I don’t know. At this point, it’s like, is this more safe or going to the grocery store? I just don’t know. No one knows anything!” said Rafsanjani.