Vaccinated Californians ditch masks, pack businesses in state's June 15 reopening day

The state of California officially reopened its economy on Tuesday, June 15.

Some people continued to wear their masks and followed COVID-19 protocols though the state is allowing vaccinated people to go maskless in most settings.

"It was slightly different today. I went to the grocery store and I risked it. I didn't wear a mask and I made eye contact with the security guard and he didn't say anything so it felt good," said Kitt.

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Abby, who ordered a coffee at a local shop, said she was excited about being able to interact without a mask too.

"It was amazing. It was just so refreshing not having to have the mask on and not being muffled but also being able to smile at the person because I love smiling and ordering and you can't see that when it's underneath the mask so it was great," she said.

Many people are also returning to their favorite restaurants, and owners have long anticipated the reopening.

"Last night, I couldn't really sleep because I was sort of nervous. I was anxious and I wondered what it's going to be like. I thought in my mind it was going to be like Cinco De Mayo where everyone was going to go out and party but it was OK. It's been a busy day but it hasn't been too overwhelming," said David Castro, the co-owner of El Compadre, a popular restaurant in Hollywood since 1975.

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Patrons were eager to return to the bar area at El Compadre Tuesday for their flaming margaritas.

"All my guests today are just happy to sit at a counter and talk to the bartender, and have drinks without having to worry about whether I am sitting too close to this person or not," said Castro.

Castro said some patrons are wearing masks upon entering.  

"People have still shown up wearing masks. Those that are vaccinated are not [wearing masks]. We don't really ask. A lot of people passed away, close friends of ours passed away so we want to respect all the families, everybody that maybe the pandemic did affect them certainly," said Castro.

A major hurdle despite the reopening is staffing.

"We lost 30 percent of our workforce and a lot of the people that we called back, a lot of them are not coming back, and maybe they found work elsewhere but it has been troubling for me to find new recruits, especially in the back of the house. It's tough because I think a lot of people are still on unemployment or they don't want to work in the hospitality business, but sooner or later, I think everything will go back to normal," said Castro.

Another popular restaurant is Bossa Nova. The restaurant opened its new location in Sunset Plaza in West Hollywood about three months ago.

"Everybody is really excited to get back to some normalcy, to relax, to have a breath of relief and for us it's just exciting things will start to slowly but surely get back to normal. Now we're just ready to have customers come back, enjoy the restaurant inside and come in and enjoy a drink at the bar," said Gregg Rogen, the General Manager at Bossa Nova.

Rogen said the staff is still wearing masks, but whether guests wear masks or not varies depending on the customer.

"People seem happy to have the mask off. All the employees have to wear the mask now until the 28th when they will decide whether employees can have them or not," said Rogen.

Governor Gavin Newsom lifted pandemic executive orders which included terminating the Stay-at-Home Order that was implemented early in the pandemic to protect Californians and retiring the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Effective June 15, restrictions such as physical distancing, capacity limits and the county tier system ended.