Sun draws many out in US, Europe; Russia virus numbers grow

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Shoppers wait on one of several lines to make purchases at the farmers market at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn on Saturday, May 2, 2020. As warmer temperatures tempted New Yorkers to come out of quarantine due to coronavirus, police dispatched 1,000 officers this weekend to enforce social distancing and a ban on congregating in public spaces. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

BEIJING – Gorgeous spring weather across the United States and Europe on Saturday drew people cooped up inside for weeks outside to soak in the sun, even as additional coronavirus hot spots in Russia and Pakistan emerged.

Though grateful to be outdoors, people were still wary — masks were worn everywhere, even on southern U.S. beaches and by some joggers in Spain. A New York City farmer’s market enforced the familiar 6 feet (2 meters) of space between people waiting to buy spring flowers. Mothers in Central Park reminded their kids to give people space. And small groups of picnickers kept their safe distances, while joggers moved past each other without a glance.

Retired New York attorney Stan Neustadter pulled down his mask to say it's been important to his spirit to get out. “Why live like a rabbit? Plus I’m approaching 78, I’ve had a great run,” Neustadter said.

Police and park officials were spread out across New York City, which sent out 1,000 officers to enforce social distancing on the warmest day since mid-March. But they were more likely to break up large groups, leaving the nuisances of social distancing and hanging out safely outside to New Yorkers themselves.

“Go for a walk, but respect the social distancing and wear a mask,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

With gigs drying up at clubs and concert halls, German native Julia Banholzer, a saxophonist, said she has taken to playing al fresco in Central Park for whoever happens by. On Saturday that was a steady stream of folks, most wearing masks, who left tips for her trio as they worked their way through a set of jazz standards.

“It’s great to have an audience after all these weeks.” she said. “All my dates have been canceled through September, and I don’t know if any will come back this year. New York is a tough place, but this is just another tough period we need to get through.”

Meanwhile, fighter jets from the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds drew people outside as they flew over Atlanta, Baltimore and Washington in honor of health care workers. In Atlanta, motorists stopped on a major highway while other people found open places to look to the sky on rooftops or a cemetery.