Pismo Beach braces for Memorial Day weekend visitors despite campaign discouraging tourism

Posted at 6:34 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-23 01:06:30-04

As businesses reopen and temperatures warm up, people are flocking to the beach for Memorial Day weekend.

The City of Pismo Beach has put up nearly 200 signs reminding people to social distance and avoid large gatherings.

Many people were excited to sit down for lunch as the first customers at newly reopened restaurants.

Brad’s Restaurant is one of the only businesses seating customers in downtown Pismo Beach.

“We are so excited to finally be open again,” said Debra Rivera, office manager of Brad’s Restaurant. “We had our outdoor dining prepared for a few weeks and then inside every other table."

They are making people wait six feet apart to get a table as they anticipate weekend crowds.

Face masks are not required in public, but under a new ordinance passed by the Pismo Beach City Council this week, employees of businesses must wear masks if they cannot social distance with customers.

Businesses must also have signs encouraging people to social distance.

By the water, lifeguards keep watch on beachgoers as city workers monitor trash.

“Our public works staff will be around emptying out trash cans frequently,” said Jorge Garcia, the management services director for Pismo Beach. “Our lifeguards are out, our police officers will be vigilant in reminding folks to clean up after themselves."

However, if the overflow of garbage that happened last weekend returns this week, it could ruin summer fun.

“If there is another abusive weekend of our community, then our city council may have to take drastic measures," Garcia said.

An ad campaign sponsored by San Luis Obispo County was meant to discourage visitors, but some are choosing to ignore it.

"I saw a lot of it on Facebook and social media, but people kept on coming anyway,” said Sal Luna, a visitor from Bakersfield. “Are they really going to stop us from coming anyway? As long as you are staying safe and it's not like we are coming with 15 or 20 people."

Some locals were shocked to see an influx of visitors at the beach.

“To see all of these people here especially without masks on and so close together, it kind of irritates me, like people having zero regards for public safety,” said Sam Martino, a Pismo Beach resident.

Residents and city leaders are hoping everyone is respectful.

“We know that it may not discourage all people, but we do hope that people do listen to what we are saying because it will mean we can reopen soon and return to normal,” Garcia said.

The only travel officially allowed right now in the state is essential travel.

Leisure travel is still not recommended until shelter-at-home orders are lifted.