In first weekend back, downtown bars draw sizable crowds but concerns linger

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SAN DIEGO – The hustle and bustle of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is back. Well, sort of.

Downtown bars drew steady foot traffic on Friday and Saturday for the first time in months following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The weekend reopenings come after the state’s top health official released new guidelines this month for counties to follow to reopen businesses such as bars, gyms and some professional sports.

Local leaders are urging residents to continue following health and safety practices in these new settings, including wearing face coverings and adhering to social distancing.

But some including Assemblyman Todd Gloria already are seeing some issues. In a tweet showcasing Friday photos of busy downtown streets with few people wearing masks, Gloria said, “We must do better San Diego.”

“Folks need to wear face coverings,” Gloria said. “The City should temporarily close Fifth Avenue to cars to allow pedestrians to social distance.”

Gloria, also a mayoral candidate to replace Kevin Faulconer this fall, told Fox 5 the city’s restaurants and bars are working hard to maintain guidelines inside of their establishments, but that the city must meet them halfway.

He said shutting down Fifth Avenue until the pandemic is over would allow for better physical distancing.

“Put up some A-frame signs, some bollards — the kinds of things we do during special events that we could do on a weekend basis, a nightly basis or all the time during this pandemic,” he said, adding, “We have businesses that have been struggling to stay open and stay in business to be able to finally reopen their doors. Let’s not undermine their efforts by not being good partners.”

City Councilman Chris Ward also took to social media this weekend, saying, “We must do better to protect ourselves and our community.”

“It is essential that, as we reopen, public health mandates like face coverings and physical distancing are practiced,” Ward said. “I hope the @GaslampQuarter can work with all of its members to help us with education and enforcement.”

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