Welcome to the Park. Now Stay Away (From Each Other)

Baseball field with a sign on the fence saying ATTENTION: STAY 6 FEET APART

There’s a difference between “going out” to a destination or event, and “going outside” for fresh air or exercise. The first is more likely to land you in the kind of crowds that can help spread the pandemic. The second can usually be done while still keeping your distance from people. Depending on how easy that last part is, some regions have locked down “going outside” much further than others.

Here in the South Bay suburbs of Los Angeles, it’s a patchwork. Everyone’s closed the beaches and piers. Manhattan Beach has closed all its parks outright. Torrance and Redondo Beach have closed playgrounds, fitness equipment, and sports facilities, but have kept most city parks and fields open for now — with reminders everywhere to stay six feet apart and wash your hands.

Not that I would count on the bathrooms actually having soap.

And I certainly wasn’t going to check if I didn’t have to. I’ve been trying to avoid touching anything on these walks, even walk signal buttons if I can plan a route that bypasses them.

Children's playground with caution tape around it.

They wrapped caution tape around the playground. Just imagine one asymptomatic kid shedding viruses all over the playground equipment, while a bunch of other kids climb on that same equipment and forget they’re not supposed to touch their faces, then take that virus home and pass it along to everyone in their family.

Park rules sign, with added 6-foot personal space, and Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands

The park wasn’t totally deserted, though these photos certainly give that impression. There was a couple playing catch near one corner of the field, a family with kids doing batting practice over at another corner, an older man sitting on a bench while his dog explored the grass, a family with kids on bikes and scooters (at least one of the kids was wearing a face mask), and so on. People walking or biking past, either solo or in pairs. And me, pausing every minute or so to take pictures for iNaturalist, catch Pokémon, or fight Team Rocket.

But we were all keeping our distance from each other.

Even the kids on scooters.

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