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By Collin Breaux | Twitter: @collin_breaux

Customers are increasingly returning to restaurants, barbershops, and retail shops in San Juan Capistrano—a shift noticed by Vicki Boone.

Bonne works as a hairdresser at Hair of the Dog barbershop in the downtown area, next to Swallow’s Inn. She said there couldn’t be any better news. The return in activity comes as state-imposed restrictions on business operations and general activities are gradually being lifted due to rising vaccinations and plunging COVID-19 metrics.

“It should have happened a year ago,” Boone said. “I don’t want to sound negative, but you’re talking to somebody that’s against this whole thing.”

Vicki Boone, a hairdresser at Hair of the Dog Barbershop in San Juan Capistrano, is happy that state-imposed restrictions are gradually being lifted on businesses and general activities in California. Photo: Collin Breaux.

Restrictions are expected to be fully lifted on June 15, if there are enough vaccine supplies and coronavirus metrics remain low. There has been plenty of business at Hair of the Dog, Boone said.

“For me, my business doubled during the pandemic,” Boone said. “I was willing to see people and follow guidelines.”

Hair of the Dog has one chair, and hairdressers generally see one person at a time. Orange County is still in the orange “moderate” risk tier of California’s four-tier, color-coded coronavirus monitoring system. The orange tier—the second-least restrictive level—allows for reduced-capacity indoor dining and other activities, though it prohibits indoor operations at bars.

“There have been so many people out on Saturday afternoons, walking,” Boone said. “Saturday afternoons and nights, the town’s come alive again. Not that everything’s open, but people are willing to find a place to go.”

That marks a change from how downtown looked during the winter, when people rarely went out as cases surged. Bonne expects activity to increase even further during the summer months.

“Hopefully, tourists will be back,” Boone said.

Local real estate broker Tom Hribar also said business has been going relatively well. Sales are brisk, properties have been attracting multiple offers, and realtors have generally done very well during the pandemic, he said.

The coming removal of restrictions in June won’t affect realtors very much, Hribar said. Realtors have been implementing recommended health guidelines, including requiring masks, limiting visits to one person in a house at a time, and scheduling no open houses, he said.

“The realtors have been out in front of this,” Hribar said.

Hribar also noted that restaurants are getting packed again.

“Things are looking up,” he said.

More than 2.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in Orange County so far, and have been steadily increasing in the county and state.

Collin Breaux

Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com

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