The day after Forest Hills Cemetery locked its gates to the public, the Harvard Gazette posts an interview with Arboretum Director Ned Friedman on the importance of keeping his grounds open during a pandemic, at least as long as people practice social distancing:
There’s a huge amount of science that speaks to the benefits of being in nature. The obvious one is physical health. If you are just walking you’re doing something that is good for your body physically. For children, there are cognitive benefits. There are benefits for adults in reducing anxiety, lowering stress levels, and becoming less likely to ruminate on negative thoughts.
Science aside, I remember the last major stress to the system in Boston and that was the Marathon bombings. We were all on lockdown, confined to our houses. I live two blocks from the Arnold Arboretum. When we finally got the all-clear from the city of Boston, I went to the Arboretum. And I was not the only one. Huge numbers of people poured in because, like me, they needed a connection back to nature to deal with the agony and the pain and the darkness of what had just happened.
Still, the Arboretum and the city and state have worked to reduce the odds of overcrowding, mainly by blocking off parking spaces along the Arborway and Bussey Street. The Arboretum has also installed signs reminding people to stay at least six feet away from other people and has brought on additional "Arboretum Ambassadors" to remind people not to congregate in groups.