SEASIDE, Calif. (KION)
Jumpstarting California’s tourism economy and a paid vacation for those vaccinated, that is part of a new multi-million dollar investment announced, Monday, in the Bay Area and on the Central Coast.
Governor Gavin Newsom was in Seaside sharing the impending initiative and kicked off the announcement by personally handing out $50 gift cards to those getting vaccinated at the Oldemeyer Center in Seaside. During his visit, Newsom also announced that everyone vaccinated now has the opportunity to win a paid vacation for up to four people.
Those trips include a Palm Springs luxury package for two, a San Diego beach dream vacation for four or a trip to San Francisco.
Community members who showed up at the Oldemeyer Center on Monday heard the Big News from Newsom himself.
“It’s great...I’d like to go anywhere at this point”, said Alejandra Pérez, a Marina resident. “We’ve all been cooped up for a while, so anywhere would be nice”.
“We should have a dream vacation here on the peninsula centered on the Central Coast”, suggested Seaside Mayor Ian Oglesby. “I put a little bug to him and I hope he will pass it on to his team and consider it for the future”.
With the tourism industry getting back to normal and hotels as well as restaurants struggling with the lack of workers, Governor Newsom said the expanded unemployment insurance is ending soon and urges the community to take advantage of all the job opportunities before they are gone.
This is a part of the state’s efforts to encourage more Californians to get vaccinated – including the final cash prize drawing tuesday, when tenCalifornians will be selected to receive $1.5 million each. Newsom also handed out $50 prepaid or grocery cards to newly vaccinated people.
Starting June 15, the state is lifting all of its most of its regulations since the start of the pandemic. California has one of the highest vaccination counts in the United States, administering 40.5 million doses as of June 14 at 2:13 p.m., according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. That's 16.3 million doses more than Texas which is the second-highest state with 24.3 million total vaccinations.
COVID-19 positivity rate has also remained under 1% for over a month.
"We are mindful and sober, about the nature of this pandemic, and how it could sneak back up on us," Newsom said at the event. "That's why I want folks to know it's not mission accomplished. But because of the work you have done over the course of last year, we're in the position to now move beyond this blueprint."
Newsom also talked about the state's billion-dollar initiatives like the $4 billions in grants for small businesses in addition to tax rebates and $12 billion dollars to help the homeless, along with $100 million to upgrade convention and visitor bureaus to promote tourism. He also promised to pay anyone with backed rents from March of last year, including electric and utility bills. However, many pandemic programs including the unemployment benefits are scheduled to end in early September.
“I think we’re gonna go from surplus to scarcity pretty quickly here," Newsom said. "And I think people, it’s time to get back safely into the workforce mindful that those job openings may not be there in a number of months.
He also mentioned the state's plan to create a virtual vaccination card that could be used at certain venues that require proof of vaccination. Newsome is scheduled to reveal more later this week.