Tag Archives: quarantine

Sorta Open. Maaaybe. If You’re Careful.

I mentioned last week that Manhattan Beach had closed all their parks outright, rather than just closing equipment and facilities. Over the weekend heat wave, they reopened at least Polliwog Park, taking down the caution tape from the perimeter and instead wrapping individual playgrounds, gazebos, sculptures and even picnic tables with metal fencing.

And signs. Signs and fences everywhere.

Park with signs for pandemic rules and fences around everything.

I’d been able to see at least some of the signs from the side of the road last week, reminding you of the Covid-19 mantras: Cover your face. Keep six feet apart. Stay home if you’re sick.

And then there were signs like the one above explaining that yes, the park open again — but only on a trial basis, and you have to follow the rules! There was even a police car parked on the lawn to show they meant business, though I’m not sure where the officer was. It’s a big park.

And then there were these, posted on all those portable fences.

Empty playground with a temporary fence and a sign reminding you just how long the coronavirus can last on surfaces like, well, playground equipment.

Some cities around here have just wrapped their playgrounds in caution tape. Manhattan Beach wants to make sure you know why it’s closed.

Even the interactive art installations.

Red gate/ring sculpture/bench with a fence around it.

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.

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.