A 1,000-person gathering to celebrate Burning Man culture put people’s lives at risk, San Francisco mayor says

California Connection

A sign advising social distance is posted at a closed parking lot to Ocean Beach during the coronavirus outbreak, in San Francisco, Sunday, July 5, 2020. Californians mostly heeded warnings to stay away from beaches and other public spaces during the long weekend as state officials urged social distancing amid a spike in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SAN FRANCISCCO (CNN) — More than 1,000 people gathered at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach on Saturday to celebrate Burning Man culture, according to the mayor, who shut down the beach’s parking lot in response.

“This was absolutely reckless and selfish,” Mayor London Breed tweeted Sunday morning. “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.”

The gathering on the beach was one of many large congregations over Labor Day weekend that went against the recommendations. Though it was specifically celebrating Burning Man, the event’s organizers — who held a livestream of the annual tradition of burning a wooden effigy Saturday — said they were neither aware of it nor involved in its planning.

Burning Man is a nine-day festival that usually brings in crowds of 80,000 for eclectic costumes, art installations and musical performances. It was scheduled to begin August 30 this year, but organizers canceled the event in April due to the coronavirus.

But people gathered on Saturday anyway in San Francisco, and video from Craig Fowler showed a large group dancing in front of a stage with a DJ and another showed fire dancers on the beach.

Fowler said many people were wearing masks, but the mayor does not want the event to continue. Breed closed the parking lot serving the beach and warned attendees not to return for another round Sunday night.

“Don’t do it,” she tweeted. “Law enforcement will be patrolling. We know people love Burning Man and people want to get together this weekend. But we all need to do our part. Stay home, stay safe.”

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