Many Californians keep masks on as economy reopens, saying better safe than sorry

In spite of The massive reopening on Tuesday With the California economy and the relaxation of COVID-19 rules that have been in place for more than a year, many people continued to wear masks in public, saying it was better to play it safe.

At Charlie’s Best Burgers in East Los Angeles, the guests and staff treated California’s reopening day like any other.

The burger and Mexican grocery chain continued to require customers to wear masks and maintain social distance. The restaurant marked three of its seven booths as unusable and limited the capacity to 20 guests.

“Right now there are just too many unvaccinated people not to ask our customers to wear masks,” said restaurant manager Jorge Jimenez, 35. “If you look at the area, it’s been hit hard by COVID-19. It doesn’t make sense to change at the moment. “

according to to the circle records, more than 25,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported in East LA, along with 432 deaths. That breakdown includes Boyle Heights (17,535 cases and 304 deaths), Lincoln Heights (15,722 cases and 162 deaths), and El Sereno (14,945 cases and 110 deaths).

“We can’t tell who is vaccinated and who isn’t, so this is the best,” said Jimenez.

When his restaurant first introduced a mask mandate last spring, Jimenez said several customers declined and left. However, since then the community has generally accepted the protocol.

There were no complaints from customers on Tuesday.

Friends Albert Ramon, Kenneth Ruiz and Yerson Henriquez, all 19, had their surgical and cloth masks pulled down as they ate burgers, fries, pancakes and a chorizo ​​burrito.

“To be honest, I think it’s way too early,” said Ramon about the lifting of the mask mandate. “I was surprised the change was made.”

Part of what made Charlie’s Best Burger appealing, Henriquez said, is that the restaurant is still enforcing a mask mandate.

“It’s just weird to walk around and see people without masks because we have to get vaccinated up,” he said.

Other businesses along South Atlantic Boulevard – La Raza Market, Basket Burger Café, and Mi Cabaña Restaurant – also asked customers to continue wearing masks.

Still, Ruiz said it was “refreshing” not to have to wear a mask all the time and is looking forward to one maskless California.

In Long Beach, Christopher Hudak read the new sign in front of CoffeeDrunk: “Your safety is important to us. Masks are recommended. “

The 24-year-old kept his on when he went in and ordered his usual iced coffee.

Despite new state rules that remove masking requirements for vaccinated customers in most situations, Hudak said he has no plans to leave his face covering behind anytime soon.

“I’m still used to it,” he said as he sat in the store. “Right now it’s mostly a habit.”

Adam Cyril found that he had forgotten his mask before entering a Whole Foods in West Hollywood and asked a clerk if the store could give him one.

The clerk replied, to Cyril’s surprise, that he didn’t need one.

“It felt like I was restored as a person and I got some rights back.” said Cyril, wearing a sublime shirt and diamond-shaped sunglasses.

The 27-year-old only found one other woman – a “brave lady” – who went shopping in the house naked. It felt new and mundane at the same time, he said, adding that he almost took a selfie of him among the sea of ​​masked guests.

“It actually felt like, ‘Boom, am I in a time vortex? Did I just go back in time? ‘”He said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

Last year, the Manhattan Beach resident commuted almost daily to his construction job near the upscale market on Fairfax Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. It was hard for him to ride for so long with a mask that he said irritated his nose and caused acne breakouts on his face.

Knowing that he can pull back the face covering in most places was a relief, he said.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles times.

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