Masked visitors follow a oneway path designated to promote social distancing in the newly reopened Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate park. (David Sjostedt/Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Japanese Tea Garden reopens to visitors

Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden officially reopened Wednesday at a limited capacity.

The garden, which has previously accommodated up to 1,000 visitors on a busy day, will only allow 100 guests at a time Wednesdays through Sundays, and will require visitors to follow a one way path. This is the second Recreations and Parks attraction to reopen after the shutdown in March, and it’s following the lead of the San Francisco Botanical Garden, which re-opened over a month ago.

“It’s working at the Botanical Gardens, things have gone very smoothly there,” said Tamara Aparton, a spokeswoman for San Francisco Recreation and Parks. “From what I hear from the Tea Garden staff, they’ve gone smoothly there today too.”

Aron Troy, the operations manager for the tea garden, said he was surprised by the number of people who were already showing up, and that they’re encouraging guests to pre order their tickets online to limit exposure levels during their visit.

Troy said he believes the tea garden will serve as a much needed escape for people living in The City during the pandemic. He is among the many garden employees who were eager to come back to work.

The entrance of the Japanese Tea Garden was marked with signage Wednesday to promote social distancing. (David Sjostedt/Special to the S.F. Examiner)

“I think this garden really helps people clear their mind of everything that they’re thinking of, and it keeps you away from all the stories of whatever pandemic is going on, or whatever personal pandemics are going on,” he said. “It was really hard to provide work for these people, but now we’re back and everyone is really eager to come here.”

Mike Low, a resident who grew up in San Francisco, jumped at the chance to give his kids their first experience of the Tea Garden, after seeing it was re-opening on social media.

‘There’s just something about having a nice park here, a quiet environment, you’ve got birds chirping, you’ve got koi fish in the water swimming around, it just makes you chill out a bit,” he said. “It’s just a great place to take your kids to run around.”

The Tea Garden’s restaurant and gift shop will not be open during this time, and many of the area’s steeper walkways will be closed to discourage the use of handrails.

“We are thrilled to be able to welcome visitors back to Golden Gate Park’s beloved Japanese Tea Garden,” Recreation and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg said in a statement. “Our top priority is the health of our visitors and employees. We are working closely with health officials to ensure safe enjoyment of the Garden’s history and serenity.”

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