Oakland struggles to keep crowds away from popular Lake Merritt as coronavirus cases surge

California
Oakland’s Lake Merritt is seen in an undated photo. (Maura Dolan / Los Angeles Times)

Oakland’s Lake Merritt is seen in an undated photo. (Maura Dolan / Los Angeles Times)

As coronavirus cases topped 10,000 in Alameda County last week, Oakland officials started telling residents to avoid Lake Merritt, one of the city’s most popular gathering sites.

The tidal lagoon with more than three miles of shoreline near downtown Oakland has been attracting large crowds on weekends, including families with barbecues, young people with sound systems and dozens of vendors hawking meat, alcohol and T-shirts.

With a surge of new COVID-19 cases in Oakland, the epicenter for confirmed coronavirus infections in Alameda County, city police officers in vehicles and on horseback andcivil enforcement officers patrolled the lake over the weekend to try to reduce overcrowding. Signs warned that vehicles parked along the lake on weekends would be towed, and officials once again urged residents “to give the lake a break.”

Early on Saturday and Sunday, the lake was mostly quiet. But crowds returned in the evenings to drink and dance, said Joe DeVries, Oakland’s director of interdepartmental operations. He described the scene as a “nightclub.” The revelers did not wear masks, he said.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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