Bay Area celebrates Memorial Day weekend amid heat wave, COVID-19 pandemic

LIVERMORE, Calif. (KGO) -- What does a holiday weekend look like amid the coronavirus pandemic? We went out to see if everyone was following social distancing rules during this sunny Memorial Day.

East Bay

As temperatures soared in the East Bay, many were on a mission to beat the heat for the Memorial Day holiday. People flocked to Crown Beach in Alameda, but appeared to keeping proper social distance from other groups. Police driving through the sand on ATVs monitored the crowds.



In Walnut Creek, others set up some shade for a tailgate at Heather Farm Park.



Some at the park enjoyed relaxing under trees, one man was in the field practicing his fly fishing technique - But all were keeping appropriate spacing as they enjoyed the sunshine.

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As temperatures soared in the East Bay, many were on a mission to beat the heat for the Memorial Day holiday.



San Francisco

The heat and the Memorial Day holiday sent many people off to beaches and parks in San Francisco despite recommendations to stay at home. People started to gather at Stern Grove as early as 6:30 a.m. perhaps to claim a spot far enough from the crowds, although by late Monday morning it was clear people were gathering elsewhere like at Ocean Beach.



Right before noon the beach was already getting somewhat crowded and so was Mission Dolores Park. The painted circles were still there and so were volunteers with the San Francisco Police Department handing out masks and reminding people to keep their distance.



However, over at Mother's Meadow in Golden Gate Park it was a much different story where it seemed much calmer compared to other parts of San Francisco.

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The heat and the Memorial Day holiday sent many people off to beaches and parks in San Francisco despite recommendations to stay at home.



Russian River, Sonoma County

We found a strange co-existence between a tourist town in dire need of outside dollars and its worries about visitors leaving the coronavirus behind. "This is the worst I've ever been through," said Steve Jackson, owner of the water sports rental company King's Sport. "We closed down for two months with little business."



But the good news for Jackson was that the Russian River was hopping this weekend, despite most of the town of Guerneville still being closed. The beaches are also still technically closed to outside visitors but that didn't stop them. "What happened is park and rec barricaded it. They pulled the barricades down and came in anyway," said Monte Rio Fire Chief Stephen Baxman. When asked if the lack of social distancing concerned him, Baxman said: "I am beyond concerned."

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The Russian River in Sonoma County was hopping Memorial Day weekend, despite most of the town of Guerneville still being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.



Crowds looking to keep cool in Livermore

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On a day like today, a fountain would normally be a big attraction and restaurant patios would be lively -- but everything is shut down and quiet.

People are out and searching for what is open so they can get some fresh air on the holiday.

This is the message all over Livermore: closed. But people want to go somewhere, so many headed to Sycamore Grove Park, which is open. The parking lot was full before 8 a.m.

"I'm not surprised, I live around here so we see lots of people any time that it's nice. Even more so with the shelter-in-place," said resident Robin Duncan.

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Some locals have started avoiding the park, saying they just take the trails around it. "On the weekends, I don't go to Sycamore Grove anymore because it's so crowded," said resident Kelly Trabert. "But I can use it during the week when it's not so crowded, I just use this trail."

Trabert says she can see the benefit of opening up a few more places. "I would like to see more parks open so that it can be more spread out. But I'm not in that decision-making capacity."

People out Monday morning say they expect to see more crowds as the weather heats up and people need a break from being inside. But there is a lot of faith here that people can get outside safely.

"I say open it up and watch and see, and if people can't handle it, close it back down again," Duncan said.

Livermore police say over this weekend, they've had no problems with crowds or people getting close together. They haven't had to break up any gatherings.

Laura Anthony, Lyanne Melendez, Amy Hollyfield and Wayne Freedman contributed to this report.

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