Mayor Breed, Sisters hand out masks at Dolores Park

City urging residents to stay covered up to avoid a spike in COVID-19 cases

San Francisco Mayor London Breed helped hand out 1,000 masks at Dolores Park Friday, as city officials expect people to flock to city parks this holiday weekend despite the city’s stay-at-home orders.

With warm weather through Labor Day expected to draw out big crowds, the mayor teamed up with the city’s Recreation and Park Department and the LGBTQ advocacy organization, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, to remind park-goers to wear masks and take other precautions against COVID-19.

“I have gotten way too many emails, text messages, and social media tags about everything as it relates to the behavior at this park in particular,” Breed said just before handing out masks at the park . “Here’s the thing; this has been hard for so many people. Folks have been indoors, they haven’t had contact with anyone, family members or relatives and our parks are a place to come together… As hard as it is, we have to be safe. And part of being safe is being respectful to the people around us.”

Just as San Francisco was removed from the state COVID-19 watch list earlier this week and with several businesses, churches and schools now set to reopen in the coming months, Breed said getting all residents to wear face coverings is crucial in keeping the number of new cases down.

“We all have to play our role and we can only be responsible for what we do,” she said. “So, this is just to remind people as we go into a holiday weekend. We saw the numbers increase the last holiday weekend, the Fourth of July.”

“As we all know there has been nothing more important in the last six months than being able spend some time outside, being able to get exercise, being able to get some mental wellness by taking a stroll on a trail,” said Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the Recreation and Park Department. “Our parks have been here for us for the last six months and now we need to be here for our parks.”

With 225 city parks to choose from, Ginsburg urged residents to seek less crowded parks and maintain social distancing, in addition to mask wearing, so that city playgrounds, as well as schools, could reopen.

“Our children have really gotten a raw deal over the last six months,” he said. “The longer this is going, the longer we adults are not acting responsibly enough, the more impact there is on our kids… It is time to open our playgrounds and we have to do our part to make that happen.”

Sister Roma, the well-known and outspoken member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, said, “We know that this Labor Day weekend, we’re going to see people come out so the Sisters would like to gently remind you that masks are fabulous and we please encourage you and others to wear a mask.”

The organization has been advocating for LGBTQ people in the city’s Castro District since the late 1970s.

As part of the mask-wearing push, signs asking people to keep covered have been posted at various spots, and park rangers and volunteers will also be out all weekend at Dolores Park and other parks to remind people.

Daniel Montes, Bay City News

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