Photo by Sean Pavone / Shutterstock
The National Park Service wants people to stay at home and watch peak bloom online this year.
Peak bloom is here! But the National Park Service is asking people to stay home and admire the famous blossoms via livestream this year to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Earlier this month, the National Park Service (NPS) forecasted Washington, D.C.’s famous cherry blossoms to hit peak bloom between March 27–30, 2020—but it’s already here thanks to significantly warmer than forecast temperatures. However, the NPS, which operates the National Mall and Memorial Parks where 3,700 cherry trees are currently in peak bloom, is asking people to stay home to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus (or COVID-19).
“As crowds increase at the Tidal Basin, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain effective social distancing and keep an appropriate space from other visitors,” the National Mall NPS tweeted from its official account on March 21. “We strongly urge anyone considering a visit to see the cherry blossoms to reconsider and to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Slowing the spread of novel coronavirus is everyone’s responsibility. We will be implementing traffic control measures, including closing the already limited parking areas, to discourage excessive visitation.”
But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy peak bloom from afar. Together with the National Park Service, the National Cherry Blossom Festival posted a virtual tour of the Tidal Basin at nationalcherryblossomfestivallive.org so you can enjoy peak bloom from the comfort of your home.
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“Each year the blossoming of the cherry trees heralds the arrival of spring in the nation’s capital,” Mike Litterst, spokesperson for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, says in the video. “This year, however, with concerns about mass gatherings and social distancing in wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the National Park Service and the National Cherry Blossom Festival are bringing the trees to you virtually online.”
In addition to the video tour, there is also a 24-hour live Bloom Cam, which shows the trees in bloom from several different angles around the clock.
The National Park Service isn’t the only one who wants people to stay away from the Tidal Basin this year. On Sunday, chef Jose Andres, who owns several restaurants in D.C., tweeted that if visits to the park go down he will cook a “huge paella” for Washingtonians next year.
Peak bloom typically happens between the last week of March and the first week of April in Washington, D.C. In 2019, peak bloom happened on April 1, and on April 5 in 2018. Three years ago, the flowers arrived a bit earlier on March 25 but were severely affected by a late frost in mid-March that killed off half the blossoms after they had started to bud.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival was supposed to take place between March 20 and April 12, but most of the events have been canceled to prevent the further spread of coronavirus.
This article originally appeared online on March 6, 2019; it was updated on March 4, 2020, and again on March 22, 2020, to include current information.
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