Bay Area residents have been seen gathering in large crowds in beaches and parks amid loosening coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Public health officials are anxious the actions of residents could result in a sudden surge of COVID-19 infections. They have urged people to always be aware of the risk of the virus and follow safety protocols.

Large Gatherings

Epidemiologist Jessica Malty-Rivera witnessed hundreds of residents gather at Dolores Park in San Francisco on Saturday, She said it was a surprising sight to see that many people in one location amid the pandemic.

“It’s not the point yet where we should be having large, unmasked gatherings, even in public settings. There was just no physical distancing I could see in sight,” Malty-Rivera said.

Dolores Park had drawn circles to mark safe areas and maintain proper distance between groups of people in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the markings have since been removed.

While residents openly ignored social distancing protocols, they followed the mandatory wearing of face masks. Roxanna Perez and her friend Alessandro Galota had been away from each other during the health crisis.

Perez has been given both shots of the coronavirus vaccine while Galota has not. They opted to keep their face masks on when meeting for the first time after a while.

“It’s the new normal, I guess. We are used to wearing masks all the time, even with the vaccine and everything,” Galota said. Many residents walked at Fisherman’s Wharf, including families from different states, NBC Bay Area reported.

Experts warn citizens to be aware of the threat the COVID0-19 virus brings despite being optimistic about ongoing vaccinations and decreasing number of infections. They said a fourth wave could still be possible depending on the factors.