• Steve Clair

Mimicking Brooklyn, four SF parks adopt social distancing circles

In light of social-distancing orders, and in preparation for Memorial Day weekend, the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department placed social-distancing circles, measuring roughly six feet in diameter and spaced six feet apart, throughout Dolores Park this week.

But the city’s most popular park wasn’t the only green space to get a spheroidal new look.

In addition to Dolores Park, Washington Square Park in North Beach, Little Marina Green, and Jackson Playground’s grassy area all received painted circles on Thursday.

“We wanted it in place in four corners of the city before Memorial Day weekend,” says Recreation and Parks spokesperson Tamara Aparton. “It’s based on what NYC Parks is doing in Brooklyn’s Domino Park.”

Like COVID-19-related signs and masks, the circles are meant to act as a visual reminder for people to use parks safely by practicing social distancing. Circles will ideally be used by individuals or household members who have been in isolation together since stay-at-home orders went into effect.

Park circles are made of the same paint—and drawn with the same machines—typically used to line sports fields. “There are no organized sports allowed now, so we just repurposed the crew’s time to do this instead, says Aparton.

Studding Dolores Park with so many circles took roughly four hours with two machines and a crew of four, while Washington Square took two hours.

The three-day weekend will prove how effective these dots are in keeping park visitors apart per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Dolores Park sees its grassy knolls flooded with people on warm days, and the alternative to separation circles might be closure. Mayor London Breed already threatened to close the park on May 4 after throngs of people broke shelter-in-place orders.

In response to the circles, Dolores Park neighbor Joshua March said on Twitter, “Actions like this—mitigation and support—are much more helpful than bans.”

And safety issues notwithstanding, the new repetitive pattern looks downright awesome. Behold:

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