Business picks up as during 1st weekend without California's indoor mask mandate

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The nicer weather and three-day weekend had many people in Fresno venturing out.

It was also the first weekend since California lifted its indoor mask mandate for vaccinated people.

"I think we're seeing more positive business. I think the customers are happier, a little less pressure for them," said Raul Gutierrez Jr.

RELATED: What to know as California mask mandate ends

Gutierrez is the president of the Fresno chapter of the California Restaurant Association. He's also the owner of Papi's Mexican Grill in northeast Fresno, which was filled with customers Sunday evening.

Gutierrez says his employees are happy they no longer feel like they have to be the "mask police."

"The employees have been the happiest of all. A lot are ecstatic they don't have to wear masks anymore," he said. "We still do have a few employees in masks, and we're comfortable with that, too. Whatever makes them feel safer, we encourage that."

He was expecting a slow weekend following the Super Bowl and Valentine's Day, but that was not the case.

RELATED: Fresno County health officials still urging vaccines, masks as mask mandate ends
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With the omicron variant still very present in Central California, Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra says vaccines are still the top priority.



"We feel like we're in a good place, and we hope we can keep it going," Gutierrez said.

While most businesses in Central California are not checking vaccination status, unvaccinated people are still supposed to wear masks at indoor public places.
"Use a mask if you're not vaccinated. I mean, that's still in place. People need to understand that the mass mandate being lifted on Tuesday, really doesn't apply if you're not vaccinated. You're still expected to use a mask indoors if you're not vaccinated," said Dr. Rais Vhora with the Fresno County Health Department.

Dr. Vohra also notes masks are still being enforced in areas considered high risk, including schools and hospitals.

Gutierrez says seeing Central Californians out and about this weekend is encouraging but admits he's still cautious.

RELATED: Mask mandate to remain in place for CA schools as guidelines lift for other indoor activities

"I think right now we're in a happier place. We'll just see if it lasts," he said.

Masks are still required in schools for at least another week. The state plans to reassess that mandate on February 28.

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