Employees at Berkeley Bowl Marketplace, a supermarket known for its aisles of fresh produce, put out a sign on Tuesday informing shoppers that it was OK to enter maskless if they were fully vaccinated.
But the vast majority of people entering the store around midday on Tuesday ignored the option and shopped fully masked, pushing carts past the craft beers, the piles of cherries and the bulk bins of spices and loose tea.
“This is Berkeley,” said Mitch Capor, a retired probation officer who was loading his groceries into the trunk of his car, a surgical mask tightly fitted over his mouth and nose. “It’s going to take a little time for people to relax and take off their masks.”
The San Francisco Bay Area, the first part of the country to order residents to stay home when the coronavirus began spreading out of control last year, has been among the most diligent in complying with mask orders. Bay Area residents have generally covered up even when outdoors, whether it was hiking on trails in the hills above the Pacific Ocean or chatting with a neighbor outside a suburban house.
Berkeley residents said they expected the practice to linger long after the announcement by Gov. Gavin Newsom that vaccinated Californians could shed their masks in most settings beginning Tuesday.
“It’s the social pressure of everyone else doing it,” said Caeleigh MacNeil, one of the few shoppers at the Berkeley Bowl who chose to forego a mask.
J.J. Johnson of Oakland wore not just one mask, but two, to the store.
“I’m uncomfortable being indoors with a lot of people,” Mx. Johnson said. “There’s muscle memory from last spring.”