SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — After enduring more than a year of strict COVID restrictions, California is finally celebrating the end of the color-coded tier system.
Business owners are among the biggest beneficiaries, as they no longer have to worry about punishing pandemic rules like capacity limits and physical distancing.
In Barrio Logan Tuesday, dozens of business owners and their supporters celebrated, as the nonprofit group Black San Diego brought together local businesses ready to make a comeback after more than a year of restrictions that, for many of them, made it exceedingly difficult to stay solvent.
"The uncertainty was really the most uncomfortable part of this past year," said Kanita Glover, who owns the Bar Bank, a mixology and catering company headquartered in Mission Valley.
"If it weren't for the community I wouldn't be here right now," she added. "They just inspired me to keep going."
Charlene Plummer and her daughters opened Chef Char's Seafood and Soul Restaurant in Bay Terraces near the start of the COVID crisis.
"Our mood is a lot better," she told News 8. "Things are starting to open up and business is picking up! We're getting a lot more opportunities, so we feel a lot better."
"I'm just excited to bring this money in and make people happy with the good food that we make!" added her daughter Danielle.
Just as excited is a local music-making couple, known as Amon and Verde, who have also created their own clothing merchandise line, and more than ready to bounce back financially.
"People are going to be less scared to go out," Amon said. "A lot of people are vaccinated now, so it's going to be a good summer... and a good rest of life, you know?"
Those who aren't vaccinated will still need to wear a mask, though.
Facial coverings are also still mandatory, regardless of vaccination status, for places like public transit, healthcare settings, K-12 schools and homeless shelters.
For at least the next couple of days, employees will still have to wear a mask at work, although Cal/OSHA is deciding on new CDC-aligned regulations this Thursday which would allow vaccinated workers to go mask-free.
While that decision would ordinarily then require a 10-day review process, the process will -- in all likelihood - be waived.
Once Cal/OSHA passes those new workplace regulations, which it is widely expected to do, Governor Gavin Newsom has promised to sign an executive order putting them into effect immediately.