VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — It’s been a busy day in both downtown Vancouver and downtown Portland — and that hasn’t been said in a long time.

Last Wednesday, both Washington and Oregon fully re-opened, lifting most of the COVID-19 restrictions that had been in place for about a year. Now, with a holiday weekend wrapping up, things on the Vancouver waterfront are really picking up.

Couples and familys flocked to a beautiful spot on the Columbia River where many new restaurants began to open in 2019 — just months before the world shut down. These restaurants struggled to survive, laying off employees and pivoting to take-out only.

But now, businesses have hired back many of their former employees. While customer lines are forming again in Vancouver, there were also long lines at food carts at Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Portland residents Alexa Billy and Andre Bierl said it was exciting to see everyone’s faces.

Lines at a food cart at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland, July 5, 2021 (KOIN)

“You can see the energy in the city is so much lighter now. It feels like there’s a little more hope as when before it was like doom-and-gloom,” they said.

Everyone who spoke with KOIN 6 News mentioned how much they enjoyed seeing people’s smiles again.

Both Washington and Oregon have reached the 70% vaccination level and many in both states took their families and friends out into the cities’ public spaces again.

The unvaccinated are still required to wear masks. And many people who are vaccinated still wear masks. But the feel in the cities appears to be … normal.