"It signals the beginning of the end." Locals navigate California's reopening

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Posted at 6:19 PM, Jun 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 00:42:10-04

We're starting to get a better idea of what California's reopening means for the Central Coast.

While the state is no longer capping capacity and vaccinated people can ditch their masks in most cases, local businesses are working to adjust.

"We have made tremendous strides and we are moving in a really wonderful direction," said Dr. Penny Borenstein, San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer.

In March of 2020, local and public health emergencies were declared. On the 14th of that month, San Luis Obispo County announced its first COVID-19 case.

Now, nearly 15 months later, the state is fully reopened.

"It signals the beginning of the end," Dr. Borenstein said.

San Luis Obispo County has had 21,421 total cases. In December and January, some days had hundreds of new cases. But now, the average is less than 10 per day.

"We're probably at our lowest point ever in this pandemic at this point in time," Dr. Borenstein explained.

62% of all eligible San Luis Obispo County residents ages 12 and up have received at least one COVID-19 shot. Almost 53% of those eligible residents have completed the series.

"I would love to see our county get upwards of 80%, 85% of all eligible persons having been vaccinated," Dr. Borenstein added.

With the full reopening here, many businesses are navigating what's best.

"Businesses can make their own decisions about what they want to do with respect to the new state mask guidance," she said.

She explained that businesses have three options.

They can require everyone to wear a mask, vaccinated or not. They can put up signs asking unvaccinated people to wear a mask. The third option is they can ask for verification of vaccination.

Equilibrium Fitness for Women in San Luis Obispo is taking that third route right now.

"The majority of people are holding it out like a badge of honor and are pretty excited to show it off and worked hard for it at some point," said David Pomfret, owner of Equilibrium Fitness for Women. "It's ruffled a few feathers but in general, it's what's going to be best for our business."

The gym opened for the first time inside in over a year just last month.

They're hopeful, like many businesses, for what's to come as life slowly returns back to normal.

"Today, all of our outdoor programming has been put on hold and we're moving back indoors and that schedule will kind of grow over the next several weeks," Pomfret said.

San Luis Obispo County's declaration of emergencies are still in effect. Dr. Borenstein says they'll be monitored until we no longer see people hospitalized and dying from the disease.

If you walk into a store with employees still wearing masks, it's because CAL/OSHA still requires masks for workers at this time.