SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Saturday marked the first weekend for San Diegans in the Orange Tier during the pandemic, drawing crowds to the Gaslamp Quarter.
The new tier means less restrictions, including up to 50% capacity for indoor dining and unlimited capacity for retail stores.
Restaurants have struggled with the roller coaster of changing restrictions and are having trouble keeping up with demand.
"It's going to be a real challenge to staff all of the needs created by the demand," Economist Daniel Enemark said.
He said part of the problem is employees left town when they were laid off to cope with the financial loss. "We've got a high price of living. There's a lot of people who when they lost their job initially they had to move in with their parents or move to a lower cost of living area."
Enemark thinks a way to entice employees to come back is by raising the menu prices and passing that extra cash along to employees.
Owners of Rinjanie Batik and Accessories say the easing of restrictions are giving them the opportunity to expand to more farmers markets. "We want to hit multiple locations all at once. We're looking at a couple people to hire so hopefully that works out," Owner Aidan Spencer said.
Downtown Saturday it was busy and appeared much closer to normal. Crowds swelled through the streets, waiting to enter bustling restaurants. Laughter mingled with scents of booze and food.
"Oh it's night and day, you're going back to your normal life, what you're used to and what San Diego is known for." San Diegan and customer Vitaly Sokolovsky said.
Visitors also enjoyed the easing restrictions. "It's nice that everything is starting to open up again so I can have that college experience and my high school is finally starting to open up as well, so I'm not losing the last bit of my senior year completely," high school student Andri said.
June 15th the colored tier system will go away, according to Governor Gavin Newsom.