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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Tim Walz said most Minnesotans are taking social distancing seriously, but there’s some areas that need work.

“We’re seeing crowds are a little too big especially around the lakes,” Walz said. “I’d encourage people to think and know this is one of the biggest differences we can make.”

When the weather warms up, Minnesotans naturally flock to the outdoors. Rolland Robinson broke out in song as he strolled through Loring Park Tuesday in Minneapolis.

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“I’m appreciative that I can be out, have a chance to walk,” Robinson said.

With the sun shining and temperatures in 50s, the spry senior knew he wouldn’t be alone in his trek to get fresh air.

“I think today is not overly crowded, but I think other places are,” Robinson said.

And he wasn’t wrong. A short drive away at Bde Maka Ska, Denise Sewesky surveys the constant stream of people outside her apartment.

“I’m seeing a lot of bikers, runners, rollerbladers, families even. Just kind of crossing somewhat closely to each other,” Sewesky said.

The view from her front porch is a walking conundrum: Droves of people at the lake, trying to enjoy the one leisure activity still allowed beyond our quarantined homes, but in an area where so many others have the same idea.

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“It doesn’t actually feel like we’re in quarantine. It feels very normal still, looking outside and seeing everyone going around the lake,” she said. “I see this, so I feel like I want to get out and move, and I want to be outside with them.”

People on the walking paths tend to give others space by moving onto the grass at times when passing. Robinson said he noticed people even turning their heads.

“In normal times, we would think that wasn’t a good thing, but now we understand why,” Robinson said.

The consistent crowds around lakes caught Gov. Walz’s attention. He wants people to be more careful about the decisions they make to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Alec Shrader drove to the lake after another day of working from home.

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“I totally understand that we need to take the necessary precautions, we don’t want this to be elongated even more. But … this is like the one thing that’s given me life throughout this process,” Shrader said.

Finding that balance between exercising your right to be outside while putting safety first is the challenge many are facing.

“We need to be out, and carefully,” Robinson said. “We need to be out.”

It’s a journey we’re all on together.

“It’s not my job to tell them what they can do or how they can do. It’s what their own personal comfort level is,” Sewesky said.

If you want to enjoy the lakes but avoid crowds, Robinson and Sewesky suggest people try morning and early afternoon hours. They also suggest walking in neighborhoods instead of popular destinations.

Jeff Wagner

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