Golden Gate Park’s Hippie Hill, known for its pungent and pervading aroma of marijuana, won’t be nearly as green this 4/20.
The cannabis holiday — which falls on Monday — is an exalted day for pot enthusiasts. But this year, the coronavirus has upended traditional celebrations that typically draw thousands of smoky revelers to the famous San Francisco knoll.
In response to the city’s stay-at-home orders, the organizers of the 420 Hippie Hill festival announced last week they were canceling the event. In past years, tens of thousands of people packed Robin Williams Meadow to pay homage to the cannabis plant with music, merchandise and food, a tradition organizers say dates back to the 1970s.
“We take the health and safety of the public, our staff, vendors and sponsors very seriously,” organizers wrote on their website in announcing the cancellation. “We feel it’s all of our responsibility to do our part to minimize social gathering and potential spread of this virus in the community.”
During a news conference Monday, San Francisco Mayor London Breed issued a stern warning to others hoping to get baked in the City by the Bay: “We will not tolerate anyone coming to San Francisco for 4/20 this year.”
Although some laws — including the ban on smoking in parks — haven’t been strictly enforced in years past, officials say this year officers will be vigilant about the city’s shelter-in-place order. Robin Williams Meadow will be fenced off, and officers will patrol the area, citing and, if necessary, making arrests, Breed said.
“We will not allow this unsanctioned event to occur this year, especially in the height of a pandemic,” she said.
The coronavirus, which can cause the respiratory illness COVID-19, has already infected over 24,000 people and resulted in more than 700 deaths across California. San Francisco County has reported more than 900 infections and 15 deaths as of Tuesday.
Officials in San Francisco and across the state, which began implementing social distancing measures roughly a month ago, have implored the public to continue staying at home as much as possible. Officials say social distancing is essential in slowing the spread of the virus and preventing hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with seriously ill patients.
In a Facebook post, Breed offered celebrants another option for 4/20: “Order food. Watch Netflix. Stay home and stay safe.”