Visitors flocking to see the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin, despite social distancing warnings

We’ve been hearing it on repeat for days: “stay at home if you can, social distancing is important.” But apparently, a lot of people still haven’t gotten the message.

On Friday evening around 5 p.m., hundreds of onlookers gathered at the Tidal Basin to get a look at Washington’s cherry blossoms, which reached an unusually early peak bloom. But few of the visitors were able to maintain the appropriate social distance recommended by public health officials amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

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The lack of social distancing appears to be a widespread issue. In Southwest Washington, the Wharf was full of people on the unusually warm March night.

Meanwhile, out in Virginia, the Purcellville Police Department sent out a statement saying they’re on the lookout for a group of teens suspected of coughing on grocery store produce. That’s in addition to footage of spring breakers who recently flocked to crowded Florida beaches.

It's all become such an issue that places like Anne Arundel County in Maryland are actively encouraging residents to call the county’s non-emergency line if they spot a group of more than 10 people.

“We want to know what’s going on out there, and we’re sending our police officers out to talk to people when they violate that order,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said, adding that police had only issued verbal warnings thus far, not citations. “This is absolutely essential because we don’t know who’s infected, you don’t know if you’re infected even if you feel perfectly good. So we have to comply with this. We have to reduce the spread. We can’t let this thing spread to to the point it has in other countries where hospitals end up overwhelmed.”


Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms

Regarding the Tidal Basin crowds, the National Park Service released a statement:

"It is impractical to close the Tidal Basin and it will remain open. Although the crowds are significantly smaller than in previous years, the more visitors who are at the Tidal Basin, the greater the challenge will become to maintain appropriate distance between themselves and others. We ask people to consider this carefully as they contemplate a visit and to act responsibly with regards to CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Slowing the spread of novel coronavirus is everyone's responsibility."