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How COVID-19 has affected Julian

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

How COVID-19 has affected Julian, CA
This photo is copyright of Jennifer Gutierrez. © 2019 - 2022 by Jennifer Gutierrez.

Greetings from Julian! A year ago, the world was hearing about COVID-19 for the very first time. Crazy to think about! Over the last twelve months, the world has seen many big changes as a result of the coronavirus. I’m receiving many questions about how the pandemic has affected the Julian community and what is open.

There are many pros and cons to living in a small rural town like Julian. The pandemic really brought out both. One of the first things we noticed were posts on social media that toilet paper was sold out and that the store shelves were starting to empty. We didn’t think much of it at first. Many residents didn’t get to the store quickly enough.

Then the local grocery stores started stocking up on necessities, but they soon sold out. People were driving three hours to shop in Julian for these items. It was so weird seeing the table turned.

During the mandatory shutdowns, it was scary. So much was unknown. Our town is financially supported by tourism. The businesses closed, and the Julian Chamber of Commerce published a letter telling visitors not to come to the region. A friend and I walked through the empty streets. It felt like we were in a ghost town. The few cars parked in town belong to the business owners trying to find a way to survive the shutdown. As the shutdown was extended, more southern California residents began to drive the backcountry roads because it was about the only thing one with cabin fever could do.

At the end of May and beginning of June, the restaurants began to open. The community had no idea what to expect. Honestly, knowing that the summer months are typically our slowest season, we prepared for the worst. To our surprise, all you loyal Julian visitors came to support us in droves. Many of the local businesses had record sales. The San Diego Backcountry region has continued to stay busy since reopening.

Historically, February is the start of the slower season for tourism. With long-distance travel and other closecontact activities still limited, I presume the San Diego Backcountry will continue to see steady tourism.

For those planning to visit the region, here is what you can expect:

  • Julian is in San Diego County. Please learn the COVID rules for the county before arriving.

  • Local restaurants are offering take-out at the minimum. Indoor/outdoor dining options fluctuate based on San Diego County rules.

  • Retail businesses are open and operating under the guidelines set by San Diego County.

  • Expect crowds. Local businesses are doing their best to support the tourism demand and also follow the COVID rules. If you do not want to be around crowds, please visit after the pandemic.

  • I recommend checking the weather prior to arrival so you can dress appropriately.

Social-Distancing Activities

  • Camping

  • Picnicking

  • Self-guided Julian History Hunt

  • Watching the sunrise on Sunrise Highway

  • Watching the sunset at Inaja Memorial Park

More social distancing activities available here. (Link coming soon)

On behalf of the San Diego Backcountry community, THANK YOU for supporting our community. We are so blessed that in these unprecedented times people are choosing to visit and financially support the community—from keeping the small businesses alive to sustaining the employees, who are parents, students, and folks earning an honest living. Your purchases are also helping the non-profits that fill the needs of the community. As the COVID-19 shutdowns have proven, without your support Julian would be a ghost town. We are so grateful and fortunate. Thank you!


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