OAKLAND (KPIX) — Just as Alameda County was rolling back outside dining at restaurants, the city of Oakland was trying to roll back crowds at Lake Merritt.

“It was pretty crowded last weekend,” said Preston Pinkney, a park ambassador for the city. “Tons of people out here celebrating, barbecueing — all types of festivities and stuff.”

By all accounts, it was a good time.

“Yeah the last couple weekends,” said a Lake Merritt visitor named Dave. “It’s a good thing to have fun but who knows at whose expense?”

Those big weekends reached a crescendo over the 4th of July when massive crowds lingered into the night.

“We saw what happened,” said Ryan, another lake visitor. “A fire truck couldn’t get to an emergency and was delayed by about seven minutes.”

It was that incident, on top of coronavirus concerns, that caused Lake Merritt neighbors to sound the alarm.

“Yeah, I e-mailed the mayor, my city council member, a couple news organizations,” Ryan said. “And it looks like things are a little bit better at the lake this week.”

“Big-time,” agreed Dave. “I think the mayor did the right thing. They were smart enough to close the perimeters of the park to cars and limit the areas where solicitors can sell their wares.”

Saturday, Embarcadero and Lakeshore was the intersection of crowd-control and virus-control, with city ambassadors personally addressing safety concerns.

“We have masks available through the city of Oakland,” Pinkney said. “We are out here giving everybody masks, making sure that they are social distancing and everything, staying healthy.”

The city’s name for this strategy: “Give the Lake a Break.” It will continue through the foreseeable future.

“I think everyone in Oakland just wants everyone to be able to enjoy the lake,” Ryan said. “Enjoy the beautiful weather and hopefully not get sick.”

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