PISMO BEACH, Calif. -- The streets of Pismo Beach were packed Thursday, two days before the Fourth of July.
The large volume of tourists continues a trend for the city over the past couple of months and is likely just a warm-up for this holiday weekend.
"We've seen crowds the last six to eight weeks," said Pismo Beach Police Chief Jake Miller. "We think we're going to see a little more."
Independence Day weekend is typically the busiest time of the year for the popular tourist community, and this year will likely be no exception, even with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"Although the pandemic has changed some things," said Miller. "We still think we're going to see a crowd. We have a good feeling that they're probably going to come, and so we're preparing for that."
Miller said Pismo Beach is well versed in holiday preparations, having done so for more than a 100 years.
During a holiday like the Fourth of July, the city runs with an all-hands-on-deck strategy.
"Fire will be out with us," said Miller. "We'll have extra fire trucks in our neighborhoods to make sure we keep those fireworks down. The police department is in full deployment to make sure we can get to calls within a good time, and public works, they're full go."
As for businesses, it's been a solid rebound the past two months after statewide stay at home orders caused a severe downturn.
Now, after a busy May and June, business will likely ramp up even more.
"We are expecting big crowds," said Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce Chairperson Lisa Kruitbosch. "Our beaches are open and our hotels are open, but people are suppose to be staying in their community, yet they are still coming here, and we do love our tourists here. That is what drives this town is tourists. It's just a little scary downtown. There's a lot of people."
She said it's keeping businesses open during the pandemic is a balancing act.
"For our little boutiques and our restaurants, this is an important time for them to make money," said Kruitbosch. "But we also have to keep everybody safe, so it's kind of a double-edge sword. People want to make money. We love tourists to come here, but it's uncertain times."
Kruitbosch added businesses are all well prepped on how to handle crowds, while while at the same time making sure customers heed all required safety measures.
"We want to make sure everybody is safe," said Kruitbosch. "Our tourists and our locals. Wearing masks, making sure you're six feet apart from people that you don't live with or outside of your family."
Just in case visitors need a refresher, there are friendly reminders about COVID-19 safety measures all over the city.
Informational signs about the use of masks and face coverings, and physical distancing requirements, are posted just about everywhere you look.
For the most part, visitors said Pismo Beach seems to just about normal, with only a few minor changes.
"I don't really feel much different," said Christine Kestly of Fresno. "Everybody just seems to be acting normal as possible it seems like, as far as being here, being with their families, and then, adding the masks."
Kestly and her husband have spent the entire week in the city and were surprised by how many other visitors were in the city.
"There is a lot of people," said Kestly. "There's a lot of people on the beaches and pier area. A lot of families. More than I expected."
She added that not everyone was wearing a mask while walking around outdoors in the downtown area.
"I do see a lot of both, said Kestly, while wearing a mask. "We've been trying to be vigilant, wearing ours. I respect the people that choose not to. That's their choice. Everybody still has a choice I guess. I know that it's highly recommended."
Governor Newsom's face covering order does not require people wear face coverings while outdoors, only in certain situations, including "in public spaces when maintaining a physical distance of six feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible."
Miller said that people for the most part have adhered to the rules, and are now especially being mindful, particularly with more of them wearing face coverings.
"Over the last few weeks, I've seen more masks, and we appreciate that," said Miller. "We're asking to make sure (visitors) keep that up."
He also wanted to remind visitors that fireworks are strictly prohibited in the city, even those that are designated "safe and sane," and there is no alcohol or glass bottles allowed on the beach.
"The safety message is be careful," said Miller. "Please try and maintain that social distance, don a mask if you can't. If you're going to be in our beach, enjoy yourself, be courteous with everyone, and enjoy the holiday!"