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ALPENA, Mich. — Celebrations, festivals, and all other events this summer- even just dinner with the family- can return back to the way it was pre-pandemic. With all COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, local businesses in Alpena are looking forward to enjoying a normal summer season again.

“I’m looking forward to it,”  said Kris Conger from The Black Sheep Pub. “The summer season is when we all make the money. We’re all busy, we’re all happy.”

“I’m super excited,” said Wendy Schoville from Bob’s Bullpen. “I’m glad it happened this early in the summer and really happy to have all of our normal customer-stuff happening again.”

As of today, there is no mask mandate in Michigan, no capacity restrictions, and no social distancing measures in place. Businesses hope that restrictions being lifted will bring more customers through their doors.

“We’re back to having full rentals without having to tell people that they can only have part of their family here,” Schoville said. “It’s nice to be able to be like, ‘Bring everybody, it’s fine, it’s totally cool.'”

After struggling for the past year- and then some- small business owners are excited to finally put the pandemic behind them and welcome customers and employees back into their lives.

“For other small businesses to be able to bounce back is really good for the town,” said Schoville. “It feels more like a community again.”