Tag Archives: Covid-19

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.

Bike Path Closed on Account of Virus

Bike path with traffic barriers across it.

This bike path was closed in response to too many people going outdoors to the same places, creating the crowds that the closures of bars, restaurants and retail stores were trying to avoid in an effort to slow the virus spread.

I’m kind of surprised at this one. Unlike the paths near the beach, it doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to keep six feet apart along most of it. It runs through a fairly wide greenbelt under those transmission towers. Only two short sections have fences along the sides (as seen here) to block off a landscaping project. Which is probably on hold now. But they closed the entire length of the path.

That said, I haven’t been out much the last few weeks, so for all I know it might have looked like a marathon last weekend. 🤷

The Shrinking Outdoors

Last weekend, a lot of people in the Los Angeles area tried to go hiking, or to the beach, or otherwise outdoors…to the same places. Which ended up creating the crowds that the shutdown was supposed to prevent, just in different places. 🤦‍♂️

So over the last few days, various cities, counties and the state have closed a bunch more parks, beaches, hiking trails and bike paths. It’s still OK to walk in your neighborhood as long as you keep your distance from people, but destination-based going outdoors is mostly off the table now.

Meanwhile the coronavirus continues to spread, and cases continue to climb, driven by people who were exposed before “social distancing” became a thing as they start developing symptoms. And in some cases succumb to them.

It’s been almost three weeks since I last went for a photo walk or a hike in anything resembling more nature than a patch of weeds in someone’s lawn. It feels like a year ago. And they just closed that beach and the paths along the bluffs.

Though I’ve got to say: in retrospect I’m relieved that I couldn’t find parking closer to the pier because of the kite festival, and ended up at a less crowded part of the beach. I could have gotten exposed to Covid-19 the same day the flu hit me, which would’ve been a really fun one-two punch. As it is, the whole household has been mostly isolated since then, and not only have we avoided picking up Covid-19 as near as we can tell, but I managed to not give anyone else the flu. So that’s good.

Back to the outdoors, though. Over the last year or so I’ve realized that getting outside really helps me de-stress. Whether it’s a walk around the block, a search for songbirds, a hike through nature (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), or heck, a search for Pokémon, spending at least some time outside with sky and sunlight makes a difference.

It’s probably going to be mostly walks around the block for a while. Most of the open nature spaces in the area are either closed outright (Madrona Marsh, for instance), or are open but with their parking lots closed (like Hahn Park). Even the bike path where I’ve spotted hawks and scrub jays and a wide variety of plants (not just puncture vine) is closed. The South Coast Botanic Garden is still open for now, but they’ve instituted an appointment system to limit the number of people inside at a time. I’m debating trying to go this weekend. While it’s still possible.

Though to be honest, if the process of getting there and back induces too much anxiety, it’ll pretty much defeat the purpose.

I Assure You We’re Open!

Panera restaurant with a bunch of standard sheets of paper forming the giant word OPEN.

More scenes from a pandemic shutdown: Panera really wants you to know they’re open! (California is currently limiting all restaurants to take-out/delivery only as part of the attempt to limit coronavirus spread.)

They also had a sign propped up in their delivery van window pointing out that they’re selling bread, eggs and dairy — all categories that grocery stores have been facing shortages of. (Now we see the downsides of just-in-time supply chains: they don’t adjust very well to panic buying.) They are a bakery as well as a restaurant, after all, and it makes sense that they could pivot to selling ingredients.