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Cherry blossoms are at peak bloom: Here's how to enjoy them without putting yourself at risk

They won't be drawing 1.5 million tourists this year, but it's hard to keep your distance among the crowds.
Credit: CBS

WASHINGTON — It’s official: The cherry blossoms are at peak bloom. The National Park Service said the Yoshino trees lining the tidal basin reached peak bloom Friday, one day earlier than predicted.

But with recommendations from the CDC to keep 6 feet away from others, you may want to think twice before heading down to see them.

Even at the crack of dawn Saturday morning, the crowds were out in force.

Mike Delafleur, a D.C. resident, was among the visitors. He thought the blooms would be easier to see this year, without the usual 1.5 million tourists around.

"I was kind of excited because I knew it wouldn’t be as crowded this year.” Said Delafleur.

But even though visitors were doing their best to keep the 6ft social distancing recommended by the CDC, it was impossible to maintain those safe distances on narrow sidewalks and while passing people moving in the opposite direction.

“I don’t think it’s easy in a public place to stay six feet apart all the time, but everybody seems to be making an effort.” Said Delafleur.

National Park Service spokesperson Mike Litterst said they will continue to allow access to the tidal basin, as long as authorities keep public spaces open.

Metro officials have closed two nearby stations, Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery, to discourage people from heading down.

For those looking for a photo op and blossom fix -- there are safer options.

The Trust for the National Mall is live streaming the trees on its Bloomcam so people can see them from the comfort of their home.

The National Arboretum is also open. It has many varieties of cherry trees, magnolias, and wide open spaces, not to mention parking spots.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service is also reminding people to respect the trees -- and the rules -- after someone climbed on one of the cherry trees and snapped off a branch Friday. That tree may have to be removed. 

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