SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco is launching a pilot program at four of the city's most popular parks, putting large white chalk circles six feet apart on the grassy areas to encourage people to maintain the recommended social distancing to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus during the pandemic.
"We just saw them today," said Brona Roush, a San Francisco resident who was walking at the Little Marina greenspace, "We didn't actually notice them until we walked back."
More are being drawn up at other popular city parks such as Washington Square Park in North Beach and Dolores Park in the City's Mission District.
"I just saw this today. My friend sent me a picture of what it was looking like out here," said Usman Hameed, a San Francisco resident who was stretched out inside one circle at Dolores Park, "I thought it was pretty smart to put in circles."
This man says the circles encouraged him it was safe to socialize outside.
"I don't really leave the house so this is one of the few times I left and it's because of these circles to be honest," said Hameed.
Some said they were skeptical about the parks' human parking spots.
"When I first saw it on the news and on Facebook, I thought it was a little far-fetched," said Aaron Caliri of San Francisco.
Caliri said it was a bit hard to hear people sitting in other circles, but says he found he liked the markings because they took the guesswork out of social distancing.
"I feel people were trying to do their best at social distance but at the same time, it wasn't six feet apart. These are blatantly six feet apart," said Caliri.
Sticking to these kind of social circles provide relief to some people who say that crowds at the park have been difficult to navigate in past weekends.
"Here it's super clear where your boundaries are, you set your stuff down," said Angela Liu, a San Francisco resident, "So I think this is definitely more organized and relaxed actually than it was on Saturday so yeah, I like it,"
Tamara Barak Aparton, a San Francisco Recreation and Parks department spokeswoman, says the city decided to try the circles after talking to New York City where officials tried it in Brooklyn's Domino Park.
"We also wanted to put it kind of in four separate corners of the city, because this is a pilot program and we wanted to see how it will work out for Memorial Day weekend," said Aparton.
The pilot program does not require additional funding, said Aparton. That's because the department is chalking up the costs to maintenance work that is normally done by park employees who mark city sports fields.
The city officials hope it will be another reminder for people to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
"The pandemic has really shown that parks aren't nice to have, they're a must-have. They're a critical part of our infrastructure and they're what's keeping people healthy and sane," said Aparton, "We want to keep our parks open, we want people to have a good time in them, so that means using them safely."
The Parks department plans to put more circles in a fourth park on Friday at the Jackson playground picnic area at 17th and Arkansas Street.
They encourage people to provide feedback on the pilot program by going to the city website or calling 311. If it proves to be popular, the city might expand the circles to other parks in the city.