SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) – As more and more people get vaccinated and the weather warms up, large crowds are flocking to LA beaches during spring break.

At the Santa Monica pier, Sunday tourists were excited to get out and socialize, more confident about the pandemic now that vaccination efforts are being expanded.

“We’re originally from Palm Springs.  We’re out here in Santa Monica because we like the weather out here,” said tourist Margarita Agredano.

For many, the easing of COVID-19 restrictions has been a game-changer, bringing in the spring with much more optimism.

“We love the scenery.  Over there it’s lonely,” said Chris Gonzales, a visitor admiring the rides on the pier.

Police were out on patrol to make sure the crowds adhered to public health guidelines.

Traffic picking back up for restaurants and stores means many are optimistic about their small businesses for the first time in a year.

“Thankfully, it’s been super busy,” said Michelle Greco, owner of Joyride.

As life gets back to normal and more businesses reopen, doctors are warning that we are not out of the woods yet with coronavirus.

If protocols such as social distancing and wearing masks are not followed, many are even more likely to contract COVID-19 than ever with new variants of the virus confirmed in LA County.

“We also have to remember, we have more contagious variants that are now spreading,” said Dr. Anne Rimoin of UCLA Field School of Public Health. “So, it’s riskier.”

On Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica Friday night, the streets were filled with visitors and restaurants had long waits for both indoor and outdoor dining — now that restrictions are relaxed.

This week, the U.S. Centers For Disease Control advised against travel. But some spring breakers say they’ve taken every precaution possible.

“We’ve been very careful,” said Zahara Ashrafi, a spring breaker. “We decided to not go anywhere or travel until we were vaccinated.”

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