Ignoring county health orders amid the pandemic, as many as 200 people thronged grassy Veterans Plaza Wednesday night in Ocean Beach to dance amid a weekly drum circle.
Maybe half wore masks. Few stood 6 feet apart.
Police let the group play out until a little after 10 p.m. when about a dozen San Diego officers strolled in and ended the gathering.
“No big announcement, just making their presence [known],” said CBS8 reporter Abbie Alford on Facebook.
Until about 8:30 p.m., social distancing was possible for the grassy stretch next to the beach. But a steady stream of people leaving the well-attended Farmers Market on Newport Avenue boosted the crowd.
No citations for going maskless or gathering illegally were reported — only tickets for open containers and dogs without leashes.
On Tuesday, after an orange mesh fence was erected (and then torn down by locals), officials including Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell appealed for strict observance of mask and social-distancing rules.
“I’m telling everybody who loves to congregates here, behave or you’re going to be in big trouble,” Campbell said.
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But that was no more possible than stopping a wave from crashing into the nearby Ocean Beach Pier.
Joel Day of the San Diego COVID-19 Response and Recovery Team told NBC San Diego that no one was cited for public health order violations because singling out only a few would only make things worse.
“I think we’ve given away 300 masks so far in the last 30 minutes. People want to be in compliance and they want to be safe,” Day told NBC San Diego.
Park rangers standing on the Abbott Street sidewalk north of the park helped hand out masks to passers-by.
Ocean Beach Town Council President Mark Winkie, determined to enforce health orders, said if an “interdisciplinary team” doesn’t work next week, “then we’re back to a situation that [park access] has to be removed from the community for a long period of time.”