Poor air quality puts temporary stop to Bay Area this holiday season

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Monday, November 19, 2018
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Many are traveling into the Bay Area for the Thanksgiving holiday, and are surprised at the thick layer of smoke hanging over the region.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Many are traveling into the Bay Area for the Thanksgiving holiday, and are surprised at the thick layer of smoke hanging over the region.

Some visitors tell ABC7 they holiday agendas filled with traditional Bay Area stops like Alcatraz and the city's holiday ice rinks. However, poor air quality has put a temporary stop to those traditions.

RELATED: Air quality improves slightly as Bay Area struggles to return to normal life

This Thanksgiving week, it is holiday decorations with a side of haze in the Bay Area. Public health officials continue to suggest we stay cautious about exposure.

Abraham Martinez and his family drove from Pittsburg to ice skate at Union Square in San Francisco. "We were planning to go ice skating, but like, it's closed, due to the smoke," he told ABC7 News.

Eduardo Bibiano and his family were walking along the Embarcadero on Sunday afternoon, covering their mouths with scarves. Bibiano is visiting from Los Angeles.

"We were going to go to Alcatraz, but obviously that couldn't happen because it's closed," he said. "So, it's disappointment."

RELATED: Check current Bay Area air quality levels

The National Park Service announced it was suspending park operations at Alcatraz, Muir Woods and Fort Point because of the air quality. It announced the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center among other attractions would also be closed through Monday.

Toronto resident, Akash Sidhu told ABC7 News he had a list of leisure activities planned through Thanksgiving.

"Originally, we wanted to bike and scoot around the city," he said. "We wanted to do a lot more outdoorsy activities, but we realized that it (smoke) was making it a little difficult because we saw a lot of people wearing masks."

Sidhu said it was a practice he recognized from the time he lived in Beijing- a city notorious for its polluted air.

LIST: Schools closed in Bay Area due to Camp Fire smoke

He offered an outside perspective on poor air quality in the Bay Area, suggesting a proactive approach.

"Donning masks is one way to protect ourselves," Sidhu told ABC7 News. "But really, to tackle this issue is- how can we get involved to stop these fires from happening? How could we actively support our environment so something like this doesn't continuously happen?"

While the thick layer of smoke over the Bay Area is worrisome for most, for others, it's a welcomed sight.

"We're coming in from Chico," Jazmine Diaz said. "The weather is really bad over there, so we decided to come to San Francisco because it looks a little healthier than over there."

For Diaz and her family, the Bay Area air quality offered a breath of fresh air this holiday season.

When asked if she would complain about the Bay Area's air quality, the Chico resident responded, "I would not. No, definitely. It is definitely better than up there."