SAN ANTONIO – Downtown San Antonio has even more traffic this year during spring break due to the NCAA Women’s Championship tournament.
It’s also a stark difference from a year ago, when most of the nation was beginning coronavirus-related shut downs.
This week last year, Governor Greg Abbott declared a public health emergency, closing restaurant dining rooms and banning social gatherings of 10 or more people to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
However, this time around, fans and players of the NCAA are coming in from all over the country for the two-week long tournament. These visitors, along with those coming into town for spring break, are also benefiting local businesses.
This is the first weekend everything in the state of Texas is open at 100% capacity after Governor Greg Abbott lifted restrictions. The governor also lifted the state’s mask mandate.
“It’s been really nice. People have a choice if they want to wear a mask, which is great. In Washington, we’re pretty much shut down still,” said Janelle Townsend, an NCAA parent.
Tanya Rodriguez, a restaurant and bar manager, said between spring break and the NCAA tournament, it’s really helped business.
“Spring break this past season was very busy. We were all over. It was packed,” said Rodriguez.
Although masks aren’t required by the state, Rodriguez said some of his customers still choose to wear one.
“I didn’t have very much negative feedback, but there was a lot of people that were like, ‘oh, I’m still going to wear my mask,’” said Rodriguez. “We can’t force anybody to do it. But we do recommend it and unless they’re sitting down and eating, then we like to have them keep their mask on.”
The weekend festivities showed San Antonio is one step closer to bouncing back as a tourist destination.
“I’ve never been here before. The River Walk is wonderful and very friendly people and it’s really nice. Really nice,” said Townsend.
The majority of the NCAA games will be played at the Alamodome. The final championship game is scheduled for Apr. 4.