For the first time in months, bars reopened in San Diego County over the weekend and, as expected, the Gaslamp Quarter was a popular spot.
Physical distancing was tough for some crowds to follow while maneuvering through narrow sidewalks, but a new program rolling out soon hopes to help.
Reopening businesses has been controversial, and people have shared mixed emotions about bars reopening across the county.
“I’m perfectly okay with it as long as you wear your mask and use common sense,” said Mary E., who lives near North Park. She told NBC 7 she doesn’t go to bars but supports them reopening.
Whitney Taylor, also of North Park, said she thinks it’s too soon. She said her mother and Godmother are fighting COVID-19.
“I work in hospitality and I haven’t been working since March, so I get it, people want to work, you want to be outside, you want to see each other, but you can’t do any of that if you’re not alive,” Taylor said.
She said she hopes those who decide to go out take precautions.
Many people went out to the Gaslamp Quarter over the weekend and photos of crowded sidewalks circulated on social media.
Hannah Cooper of Poway said she was surprised to see how many people were not keeping their distance from one another.
“I do worry that sort of jumping back in too soon, we’re going to have to take ten steps backward,” Cooper told NBC 7.
Michael Trimble, Executive Director of the Gaslamp Quarter Association, said the sidewalks were crowded because businesses are operating with limited capacity to adhere to county public health guidelines.
“Queuing up on the sidewalks really became what the issue was,” Trimble added.
He said it will not be a problem moving forward because of a new program called "Curbside Gaslamp" which is expected to roll out Thursday.
“Restaurants who are participating will be able to serve dinner and beverages out on the street, so we have more room for people to enjoy themselves safely,” Trimble told NBC 7.
Trimble said once they get finalized permits from the city of San Diego, Fifth Avenue will be closed to traffic between L and Market streets.
Trimble said he hopes to expand the closure after a few weeks and says, for now, street closure schedule is as follows: Thursdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to midnight; and Saturdays from noon to midnight.
The initial participating businesses include Barleymash, Bubbles Boutique, El Chingon and The Field Irish Pub, the association said. For a more complete list of participating locations, please visit gaslamp.org.