By Devin Fehely

CARMEL (KPIX 5) — The city of Carmel-by-the-Sea has unveiled a splashy new ad inviting tourists back to the coastal town just as coronavirus cases have spiked across California.

“Carmel-by-the-Sea welcomes you to rediscover our famous coastline,” the ad copy reads in the commercial. The ad is aimed at tourists like Brenda Douglas, who was in town with family cautiously celebrating a special occasion.

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“Tomorrow’s my birthday. So I thought maybe I’ll do outdoor dining. But with everything that’s going on, we’ve been fine with take-out,” said Douglas. That ambivalence speaks to the challenges of reopening during a time when health officials are seeing a resurgence of the virus across the state and the country.

“I’m able to now bring in 90 percent of my employees, if not 95,” said restaurant owner Faisal Nimri. He owns three restaurants along Ocean Avenue in downtown Carmel.

Nimri has expanded outdoor dining onto the sidewalk and street outside his restaurants and build physical barriers behind the tables inside.

“I feel like Carmel is a great destination. In the city itself, we have almost nothing. And in the county, we’re been doing very well,” said Nimri.

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Monterey County has 1,642 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 15 deaths. The number of new cases has been on the rise in June as stay-at-home orders have been relaxed. And some Carmel residents feel more could and should be done to reopen safely.

“Here’s a gentleman walking across the street right now not wearing a mask. Why? Everybody’s supposed to be wearing a mask. We wear a mask. My wife wears a mask. And if we had to put one on the dog, we’d put one on the dog too,” said local resident Jerry Williams.

The city and business community has launched a campaign to remind visitors that masks are mandatory and social distancing is strongly encouraged.

“The safety of our residents is paramount,” said City Administrator Chip Rerig.

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City leaders say responsibility is a two-way street. They want people visiting town to be responsible, to wear masks in public. Officials told KPIX 5 it is their job to make sure they have a responsible plan to welcome them.