Getting back to Main Street
Business leaders are hoping to coax visitors back with a new campaign even as locals worry about coronavirus. Review file photo

Now that San Mateo County officials have given the go-ahead for hair salons, dine-in restaurants and gyms to reopen, businesses on the Coastside are welcoming back visitors. While retailers are in desperate need of visitors, local residents are expressing concern about the health impacts of reopening now.

After an initial shutdown, the Coastside has slowly seen more vehicle traffic, people coming to the beaches and the Coastal Trail, overflowing garbage cans at local parks and people who don’t feel the need to wear masks.

Some are asking the city for ideas on how to force visitors to wear proper face coverings and clean up after themselves.

“We are getting more comments and complaints, there’s no doubt about it,” City Manager Bob Nisbet said. “People are frustrated.”

Nisbet said the city’s begun more frequent trash pick-ups, placed signs in places that visitors frequent and used social media to educate about proper protocols when coming to the Coastside. The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office also added more deputies on patrol during peak times. Beyond that Nisbet’s not sure much more can be done.

“There’s a certain collective moral responsibility that people have to take this seriously,” he said. “If there are spikes (of coronavirus cases) that is the failure of society, not local government.”

Last week the county released updated guidelines expediting its timeline to reopen. Meanwhile, there were different cues from state government. Gov. Gavin Newsom said people would have to wear masks in many instances when in public.

Against that backdrop, the Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Bureau is set to launch its “Coastside is Open” campaign, aimed at getting people to shop locally.

The chamber is supplying participating businesses with signs to put in shop windows that read, “We’re open.” Banners will be displayed on highways 1 and 92 directing people to shop at Pillar Point Harbor, on Main Street and in Pescadero.

“We want to encourage people to explore the entire coast,” said chamber CEO and President Krystlyn Giedt. “Quite honestly shopping locally has been a long-time struggle for small towns. So, we want to remind people to turn to their own communities as they venture out.”

Giedt said she’s met with local government officials on the coast to decide when to roll out the campaign.

“We want to be sure people feel safe and encourage people to go to businesses when enough things have opened up,” she said. “The ‘Coast is Open’ will roll out in such a way that it is beneficial to businesses without sacrificing without people’s health.”

Giedt said she’s planning to launch the campaign slowly within the next two weeks.

County Public Information officer Preston Merchant reiterated that as business resumes the onus is on the public to follow social distancing guidelines and wear masks to prevent increases of COVID-19 cases.

“It’s always a concern if there are increases,” he said. “Case counts on the Coastside are increasing a little, but it’s too soon to draw conclusions from that data.”

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