SOLVANG, Calif. -- Julefest is Solvang's Danish-style month-long holiday celebration. It runs from November 30 to January 3. However, this year, like almost everything else, COVID-19 restrictions have impacted the celebration.
A spokeswoman for the city said most restaurants and businesses are still open, but more distantly. Restaurants are open for to-go and delivery only. Wine tasting rooms and breweries are open for retail purchases. And local shopping has limited capacity inside the store.
Despite the restrictions, the city still has holiday lights and decorations up. City officials ask visitors to wear a mask, maintain six feet distance and only be in household groups.
A major change in the approach to the new regional stay-at-home came Monday night when Solvang's new city council took part in their first meeting.
The outgoing mayor and council members previously said they wouldn't actively enforce the new rules. But now with new leadership, the city council is urging businesses to follow public health guidelines.
"If they were to break the stay-at-home order they would have consequences at the county and state level. And most of them are finding that it's not worth risking losing their licenses to be able to do business this holiday season.," said new Solvang City Councilwoman Claudia Orona.
Tourists are still coming to Solvang and many are surprised it's not as crowded or as open as expected.
"We just heard from a friend of mine yesterday that they loosened up even more. So we were kind of excited to be around. But it seems like the same around anywhere," said Cameron Campbell who was visiting from Long Beach.
Solvang Restaurant owner Jeff Paaske wants everyone to follow the rules so life can get back to normal sooner.
"We're just hanging in there until we can slowly reopen. And I'm sure that this summer will be the best summer ever. So we just have to have patiences," Paaske.