• Tue. Oct 27th, 2020

‘Reckless & selfish:’ San Francisco mayor rails against Burning Man gathering

San Francisco Mayor London Breed closed parking lots at a popular local beach Sunday after she said more than 1,000 people gathered there to celebrate Burning Man in defiance of coronavirus restrictions.

“This was absolutely reckless & selfish,” she tweeted. “You are not celebrating. You are putting people’s lives at risk. You are putting our progress at risk. No one is immune from spreading the virus.”

To avoid a repeat, Breed said she was closing the parking lots at Ocean Beach, on the city’s western edge, and law enforcement would patrol the 3.5-mile strip of Pacific coast Sunday.

The annual event, which takes place around Labor Day in the Black Rock Desert, north of Reno, Nevada, is virtual this year. But Burning Man began in 1986 at San Francisco’s Baker Beach, and a social media post appeared to show a handful of people there celebrating on Saturday.

Other posts showed a much larger contingent at Ocean Beach.

Brook Casey, a real estate agent who attended the Ocean Beach event, said its organizers were diligent about providing masks to participants who didn’t have them and that people mostly stayed in separate groups throughout the night.

Casey, 39, said he was there with a circle of close friends who he’s remained in contact with throughout the pandemic.

“I’m outdoors, I’m at the beach with friends I know,” he said. “I felt safe taking this risk.”

San Francisco has recorded just over 9,900 cases of coronavirus, according to public health data. Eighty-six people have died. The city eased its coronavirus restrictions slightly on Sept. 1, when it allowed nail salons, barber shops and a few other kinds of businesses to reopen outdoors.

But outdoor gatherings aren’t supposed to exceed 12 people.