or weeks on end now, much of the country has endured a kind of home-bound miasma that the poet William Carlos Williams once described as a “sluggish, dazed spring.” But as warmer temperatures arrive and many states cautiously reopen public spaces, thousands of stir-crazed Americans are flocking outdoors. Last weekend, images and reports of glutted beaches and parks have spurred several governors to roll back access to parks and shorelines for fear of a surge in new COVID-19 infections. At a certain point, it becomes physically impossible to pack so many people into six-foot intervals.
As summer approaches, and demand for outdoor recreation skyrockets even further, public space stands to become what economists call a “common resource” — something that belongs to no one, like fish in a lake, but can be depleted without a form of rationing. Already, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that the virus-stricken city may limit entry to some parks.