San Diego beaches were off to a busy start Saturday, as locals and visitors gathered for Memorial Day weekend. It was a much different scene than last year, when more pandemic-related restrictions were in place. Memorial Day weekend 2020, beaches were only open for walking and running.
"Last year we definitely just stayed home, because that was the middle of the pandemic," said Louise Toralba, who was visiting from San Francisco.
"There was nothing going on. We stayed home," said Joe Mendoza, who was walking the Mission Beach boardwalk with his family.
"We barbequed and stayed in, so this is nice to be out and about for sure," said Joanna Leif, visiting from Gilbert, AZ.
Beachgoers said they were excited to be spending the holiday weekend at the beach – despite the drizzly, May-gray weather.
"It was a little cold. Freezing,” said a group of children who went swimming in the ocean.
The San Diego Police Department said they increased patrols for the busy holiday weekend.
Officers and lifeguards traded in their pandemic warnings, from last year, for beach safety reminders, like; no glass containers, no drinking or smoking on the beach.
Business owners and employees said they were relieved to be serving guests again, after having missed out on business throughout the past year and a half. Erez Atava, owner of Zozo's Pizza, told NBC 7 that Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest days of the year and that he’s hoping to get a big boost in sales.
"It's going to be great for us to get things together and start paying all the bills and get some oxygen for the future," said Atava.
Beachgoers said they were happy to support local businesses and were excited to be on the road out of the pandemic.
"It’s so nice seeing people like enjoy life again, back like to life, slowly," said Toralba.
The San Diego Tourism Authority also reported positive numbers at hotels and attractions that already saw an increase in business as early as Thursday.