SAN DIEGO — On the first weekend in two months without a mask mandate, there’s more foot traffic and smiling faces in the Gaslamp Quarters.
Restaurant and shop owners in the downtown area said business is way up since Governor Gavin Newsom lifted the indoor mask mandate Wednesday.
Under new state guidelines, fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear face coverings indoors, but unvaccinated people are still required to mask up inside.
“The day we heard, we ripped that thing right off,” said Jesse Kolly, store manager at Sole Concepts.
Some Californians, like Kolly and his staff, wasted no time ditching face masks.
“I see people walking around the Gaslamp like [Saturday] where someone is turning, passing my door every 10 seconds and that’s what we like to see. We like downtown vibrant and alive,” he said.
A block away, tables at Greystone Steakhouse are filling fast ever since the statewide indoor mask mandate was lifted for vaccinated guests.
“Right before the new year, we had an instant drop of 25 to 30% of business and it happened overnight, it happened immediately,” said Sara Arjmand, director of marketing at Greystone Steakhouse. “It hurt us a lot because it was during new years and major holidays coming up and it’s funny because as soon as it got lifted, we were back up 25% and the Gaslamp is lively.”
Even some vaccinated visitors are still choosing to mask up.
“In Spain we are still wearing it and it has become a habit and it makes you feel safe,” said Bernardo Cartin, who is visiting from Spain.
Many businesses are trusting those unvaccinated to continue wearing masks going forward.
“We put the sign out and we just go on a merit and honor system,” Kolly said.
People still have to mask up when taking public transit regardless of vaccination status.