SAN DIEGO — County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher was honored in a celebration Tuesday to kick off California’s full reopening while protesters outside the event criticized his pandemic response.
The event hosted by the San Diego Event Coalition comes as the vast majority of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, including physical-distancing requirements and capacity restrictions for businesses and public gatherings, were lifted. It was a long-awaited day for many in the events industry, hampered by 15 months of limitations put into place to halt the spread of the virus.
Fletcher has been one of the public faces of the county’s regular COVID-19 news briefings and made vital decisions about the local government’s response to the virus since the pandemic broke out.
He was given an award Tuesday for his work with the events industry throughout the year.
“I wish we could’ve done more sooner, but there is something as we come back about being with each other at our events and I know you will roar back strong,” Fletcher said during his remarks.
Others honored during the event include Natasha Collura with the city of San Diego and Gary Johnston of the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services.
The coalition held the event at Quartyard and wanted to keep it upbeat despite the presence of outside noise from protesters. Many events take months and even years to plan, so for stakeholders in the industry, the reopening was a long time coming.
“With the tier system going away, it really does give the industry confidence that we can start moving forward,” said Yinka Freeman, owner of Triple Pocket Events. “Today is starting to move forward and that’s really why we’re here.”
But as Fletcher arrived to the event, he was met by protesters holding signs and jeering him.
Melissa Grace said she started the group San Diego Rise Up last week when she learned Fletcher would be honored by the coalition.
“We wanted to give our concerned community members an opportunity and a platform to express their voice and their concerns about what they’ve been going through the last year,” Grace said, “because up until now we weren’t even allowed to go inside the county administration building to face our Board of Supervisors.”