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Parks remain open as an outlet to relax during the pandemic

This article is another good entry for my portfolio as it shares some tips for self care, something both important and new to write about for me.

Bay Area Parks, such as the San Mateo County parks, remain open during the pandemic for hiking, biking, surfing, and swimming. They provide a relaxing change in scenery during regular pandemic life. Photo by Oliver Fichte

We’ve all been cooped up inside for far too long. Quarantine and various stay-at-home orders can be difficult and stressful, but thankfully, there will always be parks to change that. Regional Bay Area parks are open for people to enjoy their natural surroundings, with some precautions, of course. According to two public service announcement (PSA) videos on the San Mateo County Parks youtube channel, there are specific ways to act in parks during the pandemic. First of all, of course, is the use of face masks.

“Bring a face covering and wear it near other park users,” PSA 1 said.

It is vital to wear masks, even in the outdoors. They help keep everyone safe, not just you, but your loved ones and others too.

“Stay at least six feet away from anyone not in your household, and don’t gather in clusters,” PSA 1 said.

Surfers and Beachgoers alike enjoy the open sand at Mirada Surf while keeping a safe distance. Photo by Oliver Fichte

This is something that people have heard since the beginning of the pandemic, as social distancing is another very effective tactic to lessen the chance of getting COVID-19. Even in large and outdoor spaces, it is necessary not to take this measure for granted. The regional parks also ask to put waste in trash or recycling bins or to take it with you and dispose of it at home. While this may be important due to the pandemic, it is also essential to help keep the beautiful parks we have in the bay area clean and healthy for future users and nature enthusiasts.

“We’re all in this together. Please do your part,” Makoto Valdez, an employee at San Francisco Recreation and Parks, said in the video.

Currently, in San Mateo County, 19 out of 23 of the county parks are open. The only closed parks as of January 29th, 2021, are Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Memorial Park, Pescadero Creek Park, and Tunitas Creek Beach.

Carlmont students are also relieved to have the opportunity to get away from quarantine life to greet the great outdoors. Nolan Russell, a freshman at Carlmont, explained his experience at Wilder Ranch State Park, a park situated next to the California coast in Santa Cruz.

“It was a nice break from quarantine, not always seeing the same scenery,” Russell said.

He noticed that the majority of people were following COVID-19 precautions while walking on the trail.

“About 80% of people were wearing face masks, maybe more … people did socially distance, but it wasn’t packed … there’s a lot of open space,” Russell said.

While some people did not wear masks on the trails, Russell remarked that they usually kept to themselves.

“We are very aware of who is wearing masks and who wasn’t; I feel like just be more relaxed if it was actually just regular times,” Russell said.

Another Carlmont student, Misal Bhalala, a sophomore, went to Mount Diablo State Park, located in Walnut Creek, California. He had a similar experience to Russell; however, there were not as many people.

“We didn’t really see anybody, and the people that we did see made sure to keep their distance and were staying very far apart from us,” Bhalala said.

Bhalala also thought that the experience was different from how it would have felt before the pandemic.

“Pre-COVID, it felt like my parents were dragging me to go to these parks, and I didn’t want to go because I was outside so often, but due to COVID, you go outside less,” Bhalala said.

It seems like visiting local parks is both a new and welcome experience during these uncertain pandemic times. Everyone needs a break now and then, especially with COVID-19.

“More than ever, the pandemic has taught us that public parks and open spaces are essential to our physical and mental health and happiness,” PSA 1 said.
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