COVID-19 isn't gone, but because vaccination rates are up and new cases are on the decline, California is reopening and dropping most restrictions that have been in place since spring 2020.
Business owners in the South Bay said they're ready to get back to normal, but if someone needs an accommodation, they said they'll work with them.
After 15 long months, every order at Bill's Cafe on The Alameda in San Jose will feel like a special order now that the state has dropped capacity restrictions, masking and social distancing requirements.
"Just very excited to get back to normal and to bring people back together here," George Zafiris from Bill’s Café said. "Sunday mornings, families come after church, you see people get together. It’s an amazing feeling seeing everything back to normal."
That includes bringing back the staff. Through the pandemic, the family-owned chain of 10 restaurants had to let half of its 300 employees go, even with a federal PPP loan. Calling them back is a relief.
"They want to get back to work," Zafiris said. "It was great to bring everybody back."
At UFC Sunnyvale, the gym can welcome more members at a time and can now bring back skills classes, like striking and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. But they're keeping some of the pandemic changes, like the outdoor workouts that many members embraced and increased sanitation.
It really is a new normal for OsteoStrong San Jose, which was open for just 17 days before the shelter order went into effect.
"It's exciting," Daron O’Donnell with OsteoStrong said. "It's scary, too, because it's feeling like, 'Do we just put our toe in or do we go all the way in?'"
They're booking appointments every 15 minutes instead of every 30 minutes and allowing people to be closer together. But if clients and employees feel more comfortable with masks, there's room for that, too.
"Being able to operate without fear is the goal, and being able to just take it day by day and helping respect everyone," O’Donnell said.