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Chico welcomes state's end to pandemic restrictions

Downtown Chico was bustling with people today as most COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.

Posted: Jun 15, 2021 5:11 PM
Updated: Jun 16, 2021 11:30 AM

CHICO, Calif. - California is back open meaning no more tier system, no more social distancing and no more mask rules in most situations.

The calendar date may have changed, but some people are still figuring out whether to mask or unmask in Downtown Chico.

Bird and Hand owner Thad Winzenz said his staff is following Cal/OSHA guidelines for now.

That means you will still see masks on workers inside, but if you are a shopper that has been vaccinated, Winzenz has no problem with unmasking.

"If you aren't vaccinated, you're still supposed to but we do need to take people for their word whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated,” said Winzenz. “We need to rely on people being responsible and doing the greater good for their community."

Bari Busby was enjoying shopping in Downtown Chico this morning and paying attention to if other people were masked up or not.

"At first I thought I am breaking the rules, but he didn't have a mask on and I didn't have one on,” said Busby. “As people came in and came out everyone was just checking each other out, so I think at this point it looks like about 50/50."

Since Winzenz owns a toy store, a lot of young kids come in.

Grades K-12 still require masks for indoor school settings, so he hopes people will be aware of this as they decide whether to mask up inside Bird in Hand.

Winzenz does not think it should be up to the business to police masks and people will have to just go by the honor system moving forward.

RELATED: Local business ready to lift COVID-19 restrictions Tuesday

Lots of shops are also open at full capacity for the first time in over a year starting today.

You will still see mask signs on the windows of many places, but social distance stickers might soon disappear from the floor.

The Naked Lounge Coffee Bar has been open at just 25% capacity indoors.

They have also been requiring customers to wear masks inside, but starting today if you are vaccinated you can lose the mask.

They also made another big change today by removing the Plexiglas that separates the counter from guests.

"Well we used to have a, I would say 7-foot barrier between us and the customers and we just took that down today,” said Colin Cone, barista at Naked Lounge.

Others out today are still being cautious with all the lifted restrictions.

"I feel like it's a big step forward, and I am kind of going into it like baby steps,” said Mckenna Winzenz, an incoming senior at Chico High. “I am not sure how I am feeling on it and I am still kind of adjusting to all the new openings."

The coffee shop plans to bring in more indoor seating but will try to keep numbers lower than before the pandemic.

The extended patio seating will continue to be an option for people as well.

With the tier system ending today, most places will be open as normal with no capacity limits or social distancing required.

"I think they are in a close predicament, so they should have a little bit of protection. I think eventually they should be lifted, but for now, they should take precautions,” said Michael Nunley, father of grade school kids.

Others like Aubrey Bryant, an incoming 6th grader at Notre Dame School in Chico, hope schools will change their mind by the fall.

She has worn a mask to school day in and day out since they reopened in August.

She told Action News Now that most kids keep their masks up, but it is sometimes hard for her to breathe.

"These kids have worn their masks all day every day and they have never complained, but I know it would be nice to go without it,” said Diane Bryant, grandmother to Aubrey.

Diane hopes that even with lifted restrictions people will do their part to be safe, but for now, is enjoying the family time heading into summer.

The California Department of Public Health anticipates that the CDC will change guidelines come kids returning to school in the fall.

Butte County Public Health reminds unvaccinated people to still mask up in indoor public settings and businesses.

Dr. Karen Ramstrom from Shasta County Public Health told Action News Now that they will be watching infection rates closely across the state this summer.

They are very aware of the new Delta variant of the virus, but the best thing people can do is to get vaccinated.

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August began seasonably hot on this Sunday with fewer showers and thunderstorms than previous days, but a few did still pop over the higher terrain. Our rain chances are disappearing, but the heat and smoke will remain.
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