CENTRAL COAST, Calif. (KION) Things looked near normal on the Central Coast. Parking lots full, lines were out the door of popular exhibits and crowds gathered at restaurants waiting for a table. Monterey’s favorite spots for tourist have sprung back to life after pandemic restrictions lifted, and businesses are noticing.
“Business has been amazing. Its more then we can handle to be honest with you. It’s kind of
like a Saturday, everyday,” said Chris Shake, Owner of Old Fishermen's Grotto.
But in height of tourism season for the Monterey Bay, a second mask mandate looms, just as things were were starting to feel normal again. And the thought of having to mask up again, leaves many with mixed reactions.
A group of friends, visiting from Sacramento, were on opposite ends about the topic. “You got to do what you got to do, if Newsom says to put the mask on, you put the mask on,” Jason Mraz, tourist.
But across the table, Hunter Stewart, had other thoughts. “I disagree with that. “I’m done wearing the mask. I feel free. I feel like I can breath again. I worked in the food service has to wear the mask for over a year, was not enjoying it. Had to take it off just to break and walk around.”
Mraz’s response, “It’s really not that hard. It’s just a mask.”
For Linda Tamborski, a visit to the Central Coast was long over due. “We usually come to Pacific Grove twice a year but since the pandemic we haven’t been since 2019.”
Tamborski while walking down Cannery Row was wearing a mask. “It’s my choice! And my choice is based on the information we keep hearing and that this new virus is so contagious. I feel that even though I have both vaccinations, I feel like there’s nothing wrong with being safe and take precautions.”
A few blocks away, Brian Church visiting the area from Utah, was walking with his family, masks off. “My thoughts are as long as you are immunized, masks aren’t that necessary and it probably would have been a damper for us not to want to come out here if there was a mask mandate.”
Right now, mask’s aren’t mandatory, but are encouraged while in public, especially inside. With increasing cases of COVID-19, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito counties are recommending masks in public places, even if you are vaccinated. This comes just months after mask mandates lifted. And local businesses in on the Old Fisherman's Wharf have already been advised.
“We did get a notice from the public health director of Monterey County that recommends wearing the mask,” said Shake.
The bigger concern for business owners who had to close for months during the height of the pandemic, would be another shutdown. “Business revenues were way down and we were very limited as to what we could do as far as generating revenues. At one point we were doing to-go business and that’s certainly not enough compared to what we normally do.”
For Gilbert Arce, Assistant Supervisor at Harbor House Gifts said the store was closed from Saint Patrick’s Day to June 1st of 2020. “Yeah it was a big hit. First it was slow, but once people really wanted to get out and just get back to life, it was like it never happened.”
Among the crowds, when it came to wearing masks it was hit or miss. For now, it’s business as usual at some of Monterey’s iconic stops.