WASHINGTON — The National Park Service wants people to practice social distancing at the National Mall's Tidal Basin — a popular destination that annually draws 1.5 million tourists each spring to see cherry blossom trees.
With the cherry blossoms now in peak bloom, more people have been in the area. And with COVID-19 impacting many across the world, social distancing is being ignored by many taking in the beautiful trees.
NPS said it will be, "implementing traffic control measures, including closing the already limited parking areas, to discourage excessive visitation."
On Saturday, many people were out at the Tidal Bassin. Groups of people strolled hand-in-hand without much distance, and not too far off, there were groups of eight to 10 people playing volleyball, at a very close distance.
Social distancing is something that health officials across the country are preaching for people to follow to help combat the coronavirus. This means keeping a distance of at least six feet from others, especially in public areas.
So far in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, there are 419 cases across the region.
NPS 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.
The Trust for the National Mall is livestreaming 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 perfect for social distancing, not to mention parking spots.
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.