The city of Palm Springs is once again allowing its restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries to stay open until 2 a.m. as it lifts a months-long coronavirus curfew.
The curfew was implemented last July and required businesses to close by midnight.
City officials said as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to fall across Riverside County, the curfew was no longer necessary.
"This keeps us alive; this is the one that is a game changer for us," said David Mariner, partner at The Village in downtown Palm Springs. "It gives us hope."
For Mariner, longer hours means a greater opportunity to increase revenue. "Our business is 50 percent of all sales after midnight," he said.
Since the pandemic, Mariner has converted his popular bar into a dine-in restaurant. He said he's his goal now is to provide a safe dining experience. "We're not trying to run a nightclub here," he said. "We understand that there's a pandemic. We just want to do what we can do at noon, at midnight."
Riverside County remains in the purple tier, which means certain restrictions still apply to restaurants – including that customers need to buy a meal.
"If everything's safe and it allows these people to make money, I don't see anything wrong with it," said Frank Sacco, visiting Palm Springs.
Some in the city were looking forward to a late night out, but hoped it doesn't backfire. "As long as we do it right," said one person named Matt who didn't want to use his last name. "I don't want this to be another shut down a month or two down the road."
Business managers said precautions won't change pre-midnight to post. "You must be socially distanced, you must be seated, you must be eating food," Mariner said. "If you want to break the rules – to the rule breakers – don't come to us."
The curfew was lifted in an executive order from the city Friday that was effective immediately.
"We would like to thank our residents, businesses and workers for their diligence in helping to stop the spread of the virus and we ask that everyone continue to social distance, wear a mask, wash hands frequently and get tested when necessary,” Ready said.
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Riverside County continues to move closer to the red tier.
For the first time in several months, the county's positivity rate fell below 8.0%, which is one of the key metrics needed to move into the red tier. The county's remaining metrics are above the number needed to move into the red tier.
Riverside County health officials are calling for residents to continue to get tested for coronavirus, which they said helps slow the spread of the virus and may also help meet the metrics needed to move into the red tier.
Hospitalizations across the county also continue to fall and have returned to pre-Thanksgiving levels.
The ICU capacity at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs also fell below 100% for the first time in several months.
Hospital officials say it is a very encouraging sign, but they are still urging the public to take precautions and get tested for the virus.
The county continues to open more appointments for vaccination clinics, however, shortages in supply could momentarily slow down the progress.
In a one-on-one interview with KESQ News Channel 3, Governor Newsom said the months of March and April could be rough due to vaccine supply shortages.
Newsom said he expects the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine to be a game-changer once its production is ramped up
Riverside County is currently only offering COVID vaccinations to people in Phase 1A and 1B. If you fall into one of those two groups, you can sign-up for an appointment at rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine.
Seniors 65 years and older who need assistance, dial 2-1-1 or 951-329-4703.
Workers must have a worker ID badge/letter from place of employment. Seniors must have an ID.