Spring break 2021 is in full force and what a contrast it is from a year ago. After dealing with months of COVID-19 restrictions that included beach closures, business closures and mask mandates, the state’s facemask requirement will be lifted Friday, April 9, 2021.
The beaches in Gulf Shores are once again packed with visitors and it’s a welcome sight. Red flags have not kept beachgoers away this spring break and it’s been a blessing for businesses there.
“We have been very, very busy these last two or three weeks,” said Jenifer Gouveia with Crico’s Pizza. “It’s exciting but very, very busy.
In March of 2020, Alabama governor, Kay Ivy closed Alabama beaches to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The country and the state were in the middle of an escalating pandemic and shops there suffered. With empty beaches, business owners had empty pocketbooks. Twelve months later, optimism is in the air and if the last three weeks are any indication, the season is shaping up to be a great one. Those who live on the coast are glad to see it.
“Traffic can get to be a little bit much, but I really think that it’s very refreshing to see all the crowds back considering Hurricane Sally and the pandemic,” Anita Elisar said.
Though not prevalent at the beaches, beginning Friday, face coverings will no longer be required when social distancing isn’t possible. For many, there’s a sense of relief but also a sense of personal responsibility to continue to practice certain safety measures. Most are just happy they will now be free to choose.
“I would hope that they would let the people choose what they want to do since the rules are being relaxed,” said Corey Coakley from Louisiana.
Some businesses said they intend to do just that and said they will also keep other safety measures in place.
“We’re going to go ahead and leave our sneeze guards up to protect our staff that’s working here in the store,” said Beach Jerky Life’s Michael Stevens. “We are going to continue to exercise hand sanitizing and keeping our distance at some degree.”
“We’ve been giving everyone the option. If people feel more comfortable for us to have masks on when talking to them, we leave our masks on,” Crico’s Jenifer Gouveia said. “If they’re okay with it not on, they don’t want to wear it, we’re no pressure on that.”
The last thing anyone wants is to be too relaxed too soon and revert to the safety measures they’ve endured over the last year, especially since the season is off to such a great start.