Quick Take:

Hula’s Island Grill has been a fixture in the community since 2006, but when the pandemic hit, they experienced...

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the day things took a big step back toward normal.

We here at Lookout christened the June 15th moment by fanning out across the county to see what we could see. And hear. Turns out slightly muffled speech hidden behind facemasks remained a big part of it.

As Gayle Ortiz of Capitola’s favorite bakery told me: “People still have fear.”

And it’s totally natural. After nearly a year and a half of caging ourselves up and
trying to do the right thing on behalf of others, it’s simply not natural to walk into any establishment and not be thinking about a face covering.

There will soon come a time when we can freely read people’s facial expressions and hear them clearly without having to lean in awkwardly. But we’re not quite there just yet. And that’s OK. What’s the hurry?

I hope you enjoy our exploration, which took us to more than 20 local businesses. And we’d love to hear more stories about your own explorations, so hit reply if you are so inspired…

The Great Santa Cruz Reopening

Mission West owner Max Turigliatto
Mission West owner Max Turigliatto plans to open the Alley Oop in the now-closed Poet & Patriot Irish Pub in downtown Santa Cruz. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

Business owners welcome new reality — even if that’s still being figured out: What to make of June 15th? That was our goal on Tuesday as we dispatched our entire editorial staff in different directions around the county. What we came back with was a hodgepodge of differing, developing, still-in-the-works ideologies about what to do going forward as a post-pandemic society. Check out our adventure here.

California reopens to joy, celebrations

Los Angeles
Images from the reopening of California on June 15. (Los Angeles Times)

‘It’s one of the best days of my life’: As of Tuesday morning, coronavirus-related capacity restrictions and physical distancing requirements were lifted at almost all businesses and other institutions. State residents who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 can now go without face masks in most nonwork situations. A closer statewide look by the LA Times.

RELATED: Many Californians keep masks on as economy reopens, saying better safe than sorry (LA Times)

Will travel and tourism return with California reopening?

Pedestrians with suitcases walk through Union Square in San Francisco.
Pedestrians with suitcases walk through Union Square in San Francisco. Credit: Anne Wernikoff / CalMatters

Rebound in order? As California drops capacity and social distancing rules, experts are tempering expectations on a full rebound of the state’s tourism industry. Domestic travel won’t recover fully until 2023 and international visitors remain half of pre-pandemic levels. Still, state and local tourism officials express optimism. More from CalMatters here.

California reopening: Why officials say it’s safer this time around

Los Angeles
Cielo worker Aurora Pedro, left, talks about COVID-19 vaccines with Francisco Hernandez, a worker in the Selecto Plaza Mall in Los Angeles on Saturday. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Different this time: Tuesday is not the first time California has tried to reopen its economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. But officials are hopeful it will be the last. More from the Times here.

An end to the pandemic hangover?

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk swings. Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

Businesses brace for what’s next, try to put ‘smiles back on faces’: Local businesses and hotels were seeing an uptick in travel, business ahead of the state’s reopening on Tuesday, but some lingering pandemic aftereffects remain that will still need sorting out. More from Neil Strebig on that here.

Simple graduation mirrored a new, simpler existence

A bird's eye view over the UC Santa Cruz campus looking down toward Santa Cruz
READ THE STORY: With review window soon closing, UCSC and surrounding community on collision course over enrollment growth Credit: Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz

One UCSC grad’s newfound perspective: Haneen Zaid was beyond busy before the pandemic forced her to slow it down a bit and actually introduce herself to her housemates. Now she has friendships that will last a lifetime. More from Haneen on that journey to balance here.

For families of COVID victims, an agonizing wait for burials and paperwork

Pandemic era’s hidden trauma: Her brother succumbed to COVID-19 in February. It took months to bury him. And longer still to secure a death certificate. More from the LA Times’ David Lazarus here.

More from here & elsewhere

San Francisco to require staff in hospitals, jails and nursing homes to get COVID-19 vaccine (LA Times)
New York reaches vaccine milestone and joins California in reopening (CNN)
This Twitter Account Is Honoring COVID Victims, With 5,000 Obituaries And Counting (NPR)
Hospital workers lost their lawsuit on a vaccine requirement. Will businesses enforce them? (NBC News)
Biden July 4 celebration to mark COVID fight (ABC News)
CDC calls Delta variant a ‘variant of concern’ (CNN)
COVID-19 widow reflects on keeping her husband’s memory alive (ABC News)
Royal Caribbean cruise postponed after crew members test positive for COVID-19 (USA Today)
Jobless Indiana residents sue governor for ending pandemic unemployment benefits early (CNN)

See you tomorrow, everyone.

Mark Conley
Deputy Managing Editor

Follow Mark Conley on: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Mark joins Lookout after 14 years at the Mercury News and Bay Area News Group, where he served as Deputy Sports Editor on a staff that covered three...