LOS ANGELES – When the Angelino Wine Company reopened its tasting room, co-owner Amy Luftig Vist reappeared for the first time, seeing old friends as the epidemic had closed so many cities had ghost cities. Looked like big cities left.
Even with limited capacity, animated conversations flow from the tables set between barrels of aging wine and echo from the brick walls of the winery hidden in an industrial section on the outskirts of Los Angeles.
“It seemed that the winery was revived,” Luftig Vist said on Sunday, restarting after closing over the past 13 months over the course of two weeks.
Food in a smaller space is destined to get louder when capacity in Los Angeles and San Francisco is increased by 50%, which leads to a wider reopening of California businesses.
The state’s signature cities may possibly be the only major urban area in the state on Tuesday to meet the virus-case threshold for at least the restrictive level, allowing indoor bars to reopen, Major League Baseball’s Dodgers and Giants, And large crowds to rejoice at the expanded capacity. In restaurants, movie theaters, amusement parks, gyms and other establishments.
It is a notable change that the virus was the epicenter of the virus in the US just a few months ago in California.
The two cities have turned the epidemic into different climates, but are emerging in the same place after a statewide shutdown in March 2020 after darkening streets, closed shops and restaurants, and office buildings.
While San Francisco largely defeated the coronovirus, Los Angeles was almost defeated during the winter surge. At its worst, more than 500 people were dying in California in a single day and the huge influx of patients in LA area hospitals could barely be treated.
San Francisco reached the least restrictive yellow category for a brief period in October, the only urban area to do so, before a dangerous surge of cases forced a retreat. LA never emerged from the most restrictive levels until March.
Now, California has the fewest cases in the country. Los Angeles County, home to a quarter of the state’s nearly 40 million people and a disproportionate 60,000 deaths in the state, did not record a single COVID-19 death on Sunday or Monday.
As spring progresses, freeways are becoming crowded, workers are returning to offices, and people are heading to restaurants and breweries.
On Sunday in the Arts District in Downtown LA, drivers circled the block in search of parking spots. Dinner filled Wurstküche’s sidewalk tables, eating sausages and drinking Belgian and German beers. A line of people hiked down the street waiting for a table at Angel City Brewery.
Chris Samanus said he felt a civil obligation to take out and support businesses.
“It seems almost a duty to engage with the city,” Sammons said. “We have to bring L.A. back to life.”
It was the first time for his friend Stephen Tyler, who said he was excited after being down and vaccinated for so long.
Tyler said “it’s good to be out in the city again, be around people”. “Even, I don’t care to stand in line. This is new again.
In San Francisco, the business has picked up at Mixt, a popular lunch spot for salad lovers in the Financial District. The chain’s co-founder and chief executive, Leslie Silverglide, said it is not at the pre-epidemic level when the lines extend outward. It plans to open two more stores in the city in the coming weeks.
“It seems like people are coming back,” she said. “They are excited to have lunch with colleagues again.”
Fear of catching the virus caused a massive drop in mass transit riders. Jason Alderman said he felt like a child on the first day of school when he took a commuter train to San Francisco. He works for online payment start-up Fast, which reopened its headquarters in San Francisco as soon as it was approved in late March.
“Instead of feeling like a hollow-ghosted city that people had quickly abandoned, it felt like there were green sprouts of life.” “I felt a sense of energy that used to be there.”
When the lockdown order arrived in March 2020, an estimated 137,500 employees for San Francisco companies, including Google, Facebook and Uber, disappeared overnight.
Moving vans closed homes to roomier suburban homes and young people simply packed their cars and could work from anywhere. Residential rents have declined, but are now climbing.
San Francisco has an office vacancy rate of 18% compared to 10% a year ago, said John Chang, senior vice president of Marcus & Millichap, a commercial real estate financing and advisory company. In Los Angeles, vacancies are up 17.5% from 13.5% a year earlier.
More telling, perhaps, is that only 14% of key cards are being used to enter offices in San Francisco, while LA has 24%. At the other end of the spectrum is Dallas, where data is shown using 41% of the cards, reflecting different approaches to the virus in the two states.
Chang said workers abruptly left San Francisco when the original closure order went into effect. He expects the return to be more gradual.
Lisa Elder, a paralegal who has worked in her office since July, said that despite the recent reopening of the area with some restaurants and cafes, it is a shadow of her former self.
“This place was packed before COVID, millions of people must have been eating in the streets and now it is quiet. This is crazy, ”he said.
At Angelino Wines, Luftig Vist said that most of his customers were vaccinated and all were excited to be out again.
“It’s just a place of honor that people come to break the seal because we start coming out again,” she said.
Everyone from San Francisco reported. Olga R. Rodriguez contributed to this San Francisco report.
Brian Melli and Jenny Har, Associated Press