Socal Distancing Guidelines:

To minimize the spread of COVID-19 virus, the Shelter-in-Place order for San Francisco (and California) requires us all to stay at home, and avoid non-essential travel. It’s currently OK to go outside for essential work, shopping, medical appointments, and also exercise. When outside, please follow these recommended public health guidelines and social distancing protocols to stay safe:

• Stay home if you feel unwell, may have been exposed to someone who is ill, or are at higher risk of illness.

• Maintain at least six feet between yourself and other walkers.

• Avoid direct physical contact such as shaking hands or hugs

• Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, or mouth.

• Wash your hands thoroughly and often.

• Use a barrier to touch surfaces such as door handles, park equipment, or stair handrails.

• Visit less-busy streets and parks, or visit busier areas early when there are few people out.

• Observe any posted closures of trails, parks, playgrounds

Tips adapted from a blog post by Greenbelt Alliance ( These are in line with the restrictions outlined by San Francisco mayor London Breed last week, and Governor Newsom the other day.

San Mateo County Health Officer Scott Morrow describes the rules in San Mateo County, which are similar to those here in SF. On recreation: . "For families in different households, do not mix your households at this time. As hard as this is, do not gather in any way outside of immediate households. As for outdoor exercise, people certainly need to get out, but do this in your own immediate neighborhoods. Do not drive except to provide or obtain an essential service. Do not go into other neighborhoods for recreation. This increases the risk of virus spread. Always maintain social distance. Wash your hands frequently and follow all the other recommended actions." Read more at Courtesy of Matthew Blain, SF Urban Riders

Observations (Week 1)

In our first week of Shelter-in-Place restrictions, we have done quite a bit of shopping in our Richmond District neighborhood; we've walked locally in different sections of 1017-acre Golden Gate Park, and once in McLaren Park. We've also enjoyed walking our neighborhood and paying attention to the trees and flowers in bloom. The city is quiet enough that we can hear birds at a greater distance; it's like Sunday morning all the time. At any given time of day there are a few people out doing errands or walking the dog, or jogging, but there is ample room to give people six feet of room. Less-so in the grocery store or the post-office (though our local grocery stores let only a few dozen people into the store at a time, and the check-out line is marked with a six-foot spacing). One person studying the ingredients labels can block an entire aisle, but usually not for too long. Similarly on the first day we had a conversation with a bank guard on Geary Blvd. at the proper six-foot distance, but perpendicular to the street, so we basically blocked the sidewalk for other passers-by until we rotated our position 90 degrees in line with the building. We figured it out in a few seconds...

In Golden Gate Park probably the most crowded situation we've encountered was along JFK Drive between Arguello and 8th Aves; or from the Conservatory of Flowers west past the Rhododendron Dell and roller skate area to the Music Concourse. Even there people were pretty much spaced more than six feet apart (or as wide as the path would allow). Around Stow Lake some folks are less likely to give way or leave proper distance (without naming names, something about old country personal space? Sometimes it's MY own white male unthinkingness). When paved paths are barely 3 people wide, anyone walking side-by-side should go single-file or step to the side to give the most passing room (as close to 6 feet as you can). West on JFK by Rainbow Falls was a little claustrophobic that way on Saturday - many people paying attention and a few not. We enjoyed better walking Friday at North Lake (Chain of Lakes) off Fulton and 43rd Aves, and Metson/Elk Glen/Mallard Lakes near 25th Ave and MLK Way.

It was interesting to visit the Crocker Amazon Playground edge of McLaren Park and see people out with their kids and dogs, even trails that rarely see people. We watched an old fellow out on the softball field practicing fly-casting, a great idea. We took oour two granddaughters out for a walk at a 6-foot separation, and it pretty much worked; good to see them. No touching for us, but they enjoyed pushing each other around and doing cartwheels. Technically this was still "mixing households" which is not a great idea.

Adjustments (Week 2)

I've got my eye on Mt. Tamalpais – I can see it from my roof, and while in the next county, it's within the greater shelter-in-place zone (now so is all of California!), and if we limit our stops and contacts (and pee before we leave home) we'd be within the spirit of the letter of the law... BUT everybody sorta had the same idea and on March 22 Marin County closed ALL Marin parks – GGNRA, State, County, Open Space, and Local – because of a large influx of people from all over the region converging on favorite spots like Stinson Beach, Point Reyes, and Mt. Tamalpais, to the concern of rangers, local businesses and residents. Marin County’s health department clarified that the closure refers to motorized access to parks and that residents are still allowed to walk or bike on trails and in parks near their homes. So stay at home a LOT, walk your neighborhood (trails included), and appreciate Marin from a distance. Likewise East Bay Parks has threatened (but so far avoided) total closure, but they have closed specific trailheads and parks (in a sensible way). So be EXTRA discrete, be patient, think of the larger goal, stay pretty local, and WAIT. Meanwhile you can get a lot of enjoyment from distant views, or the grass growing in your local sidewalk cracks.

The purpose of all this extra care and attention is to reduce or prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus while still keepeing people from being totally house-bound. It's a delicate tradeoff, and we may find – if cases accelerate, the hospitals are overwhelmed, and so forth – we're in an Italian situation sooner than we think (movement totally restricted, permission required to do even shopping and emergency travel). As someone else posted, the more we restrict our outside activities, the sooner we flatten the curve of transmission or stop it entirely. Not that the USA is barely doing any testing of the general populace yet, so we know who is infected. (Remember the virus can be trasmitted before the carrier shows any symptoms). So it's a difficult balancing act and we may have to roll with it; change our behavior again to achieve the longer-term goal of getting back to normal, all together. Things may change for the better, but it's going to take a minute.