Social Distancing? At Lake Merritt In Oakland, Some Say It's Not Practiced (Photo by the November Project in Oakland)

Social Distancing? At Lake Merritt In Oakland, Some Say It’s Not Practiced

Social Distancing is a new and unfortunately necessary practice we all have been asked to do in order to “flatten the curve” – or reduce the likelihood that the Coronavirus will spread. Unfortunately, some in Oakland, particularly at Lake Merritt, and notably runners around it, have not gotten the message.

UPDATE: Couple Drives Around Lake Merritt and Adams Point Oakland, Notes Farmer MarketCouple Drives Around Lake Merritt and Adams Point Oakland, Notes Farmer Market

This has led to a number of complaints, and to this vlog I made on Monday, below, called “Oakland Runners Must Give Six Feet Of Space To Walkers During Pandemic“. I note that “There are a number of complaints that Oakland runners are not giving others six-feet of space and recognizing social distancing. One elderly man noted this, so I vlogged about it.”

The Oakland Social Distancing Problem, to give it a formal name, has become so common that it’s given rise to a number of posts about it on Nextdoor, the civic local social media site. Here are some examples:

6 ‘ at the lake

I’m running about lake Merritt every day, and I’m concerned that people are not keeping 6’ distance. I often have to run on the grass or roadway to avoid others. Here are a few ideas that might help:
1. If you are picnicking or otherwise stationary, could you please sit at least 6 ‘ feet from any pathway? If you sit right next to the walking path you are risking getting yourself or others infected.
2. If walking or running, how about staying the far right as possible, as you would if you were driving? If you are in a group, please do this single file whenever you have someone approaching from the other direction.
3. Speaking of groups, I see some large groups walking or sitting together near the lake. Some of these groups don’t appear to be household members but they are less than 6′ apart.

I suggest we all remind each other that if one is not part of the solution then they are part of the problem.

Now a question for you: Gavin Newsom thinks we will self-police; how can we do this politely? Maybe we could remind others by calling out “6 feet please” or “Remember the five”? I would like a way to do it so that everyone knows it is kind. I think that somehow we need to start to call out if the 6’ rule or the coughing into elbow rule is not followed. On the latter I see lots of people cough on my daily run, I have yet to see a single person direct it into their elbow.


I switched to running the cemetery. There are enough individuals out there who will never change and be a hazard to everyone. There’s plenty of space in the cemetery and most of the people are 6’ under


I walked around the lake today 3/23. I kept to the edge of the sidewalk, I had at least 10 runners come up right next to me within 3 feet, enough to clearly hear their breathing. When this happened for the 10th time, I started putting my arm out, so they would at least have to give me 3′ clearance. There was plenty of room to pass with a 6′ space between. I just hope that everyone will respect each other’s right to safety and just do a simple thing like keeping a 6′ distance.


Some people just don’t get it yet or take it seriously. Putting your arm out was a good way to let them know what they need to do. Hopefully they learned and people will get used to and adhere to the new norm quickly.

Just as a note, the World Heath Organization reports that social distancing, alone, will not stop the spread of the Coronavirus “Asking people to stay at home and other physical distancing measures are an important way to slow down the spread of the virus and buy time, but they are defensive measures that won’t help us to win,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing. “To win, we need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics,” he added.

According to the New York Post, Tedros said countries hit with the virus also need to implement tactics such as isolating and caring for every confirmed case, as well as tracing and quarantining all of the patient’s close contacts.

Stay tuned.

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