LOS GATOS, Calif. - It’s a day that many Californians have been waiting for, fully reopening the state’s economy. For many places, no more social distancing, no more capacity limits and if you’re vaccinated no more masks.
A piñata in the form of a COVID protein was the main attraction in downtown Los Gatos Tuesday night.
"Today is the day you can take your last shot at COVID," said Sandy Decker of Los Gatos.
The party was promoted as the "Unmasking Celebration" with live music and bubbly. The Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce put it on.
"The tides are turning," said Catherine Somers, Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce executive director. "It’s really an exciting day for everybody who has preserved through these last 15 months."
"I wore heavy lipstick to show off," said Diane Bracken of Los Gatos.
Bracken couldn’t wait to show off her smile and see other people’s faces.
"I’m just so excited to finally be released into the world," said Bracken. "I’m a person who loves events and crowds."
Los Gatos like so many other towns and cities suffered during the pandemic with storefronts now vacant. Many restaurants are closed on Monday and Tuesday but that will soon change.
"As far I’m concerned, COVID is in my rear view mirror and I’m looking forward," said Mary Guercio, owner of Out of the Envelope. "I’m not looking back."
At the "Out of the Envelope" store, Guercio sold "Governor Newsom Nonessential" t-shirts and other pandemic-related attire. There is a new sign that greets customers.
"The sign actually says feel free to wear a mask, feel free not to wear a mask and feel free not to tell me if you've been vaccinated. It’s not my business," said Guercio.
She said some customers said they were mask shamed in Capitola.
"She says I don’t have to wear a mask and people shamed her into putting her mask back on," said Guercio. "Some people are very scared to not wear the mask anymore."
Other places are reopening at their own pace including the town’s library, still requiring masks vaccinated or not.
"I hope it’s not too soon because the Delta variant has me a little concerned," said Jane Jerome of Los Gatos.
The Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce anticipates the return to pre-COVID times certainly won’t happen overnight. The chamber plans to keep the piñata as a reminder.
"Remember just the good that came out of the tough year and half, there was some good for sure," said Somers.
The Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce said new businesses and restaurants are coming in. They aren’t too worried storefronts will be vacant for long. They’re planning to hold more events to entice visitors back to downtown.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.