Businesses, residents cautiously celebrate end of COVID-19 restrictions

Visitors to Santa Clarita City Hall pass a sign that states if you have been vaccinated you don't need to wear a mask during your visit. 061521. Dan Watson/The Signal

For the first time in more than a year, businesses and residents alike across the Santa Clarita Valley were overjoyed at being fully reopened.

“I’m absolutely thrilled because we’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda said Tuesday. “I think it’s obvious that we have the virus under control — it’s not 100%, but we have it quite a bit under control — and it’s time that we open up, not only our businesses, but our society as a whole.”

While Wolf Creek co-owner Laina McFerren expects there to be a few bumps along the road as they get operations back to as close as possible to what they used to be, she, too, is very excited, she said.

“We’re very happy to be able to have our bar open again and welcome all of our mug club folks back — that’s been one of the things that we’ve missed the most,” McFerren added.

Both McFerren and Azul Tequila Mexican Grill owner Rafael Cermeno described the last year as a roller coaster, as their industries were among the hardest hit by the pandemic, facing numerous regulatory changes, along with multiple closures.

“It was hard for everybody, but we have very loyal customers, and I thank them — we really appreciate the support,” Cermeno said. “Being open 100% is going to help a lot of small businesses like ours.”

However, businesses in the service industry have continued to face challenges building staff back up, as many workers have been slow to return.

“It is still an issue, and I think it will be for a little while … because everybody is trying to do it at the same time, so we’re all in the same boat,” McFerren said. “I think a lot of people that were working in this industry changed directions in the shutdown because they had to … I’m very sympathetic to that, and we just have to find our way.”

The next challenge Cermeno faces is navigating through the ever-changing mask restrictions, as Cal/OSHA, as well as the state and county public health departments, decide who needs to be masked, and when.

Signs posted at City of Santa Clarita City Hall state if you have been vaccinated you don’t need to wear a mask during your visit. 061521. Dan Watson/The Signal

No more mask mandates

Miranda reminded residents that there are still some public health guidelines that need to be followed, such as masks still being required for those who are not fully vaccinated.

At city of Santa Clarita facilities, regulations were quick to change, as fully vaccinated visitors as of Tuesday are no longer required to wear masks, with visitors self-attesting that they are in compliance with these public health requirements.

Even so, while visitors to City Hall Tuesday said they saw the signs, a majority remained masked.

Down the street at the Westfield Valencia Town Center, on the other hand, some customers welcomed the updated masking regulations.

“It’s 106 degrees, so this couldn’t have come at a better time,” Valencia resident Evelyn Bennett said, a big smile on her unmasked face. “This is the closest to ‘normal’ I’ve felt in forever.”

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