When Covid restrictions were at their peak, local businesses struggled to fill the same tables that are packed today. “As for the amount of people here, it’s normal. It’s better than normal. We’re actually doing better than in previous years,” said Christensen. RELATED: With many businesses still looking for employees, the unemployed can be selective about jobs
On an average afternoon the streets surrounding the Boardwalk are once again packed with pedestrians and golf carts. Following the state’s and city’s COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, the number of visitors to the island city has skyrocketed.
Andrew Christensen, the owner of Reel Bar, says the change is massive, and not just compared to last year. Bar and restaurant owners across the city say it’s returning to it’s pre-pandemic highs, but there are still steps that need to happen to truly return to normal.
A number of the employees that worked on the island last summer lost their jobs, and many of those businesses haven’t fully recovered. “We need people. Badly. Right now we’re down 30% from unemployment,” said Booker. While the sudden increase in tourism is great news for the businesses that rely on vacation dollars, there are struggles that come with the increase.
Both he and Christianson agree that it was the months of being in lockdown that caused people to want to soak up the sun in droves; and now they’re making up for lost time. Eric Booker, President of the Island Service Co, says during July of last year, Put-In Bay looked like a “ghost town”.
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