SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — As rules soften and crowds return, the debate on masks is reigniting.

There were smiling faces and cheering fans without face coverings at Wednesday night’s Sacramento Kings game at Golden 1 Center.

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“It’s refreshing, you can actually see people’s reactions,” said Kings’ fan Colin Bailey.

“It’s really strange,” said fan James Stroder.

While masks are no longer required at indoor settings for places like Golden 1 Center, they are still encouraged with greeters handing them out at the door.

“It feels like normalcy almost, everything is going back to normal,” Christopher Littlejohn said. “It just feels right, appropriate.”

“I’m immunocompromised, so I will be wearing a mask for a long time,” said Kings fan Heather Dorty.

Crowds entering for Wednesday’s Kings game were mixed with both masked and maskless fans.

“If I’m honest, it’s a little weird. I don’t know these people or where they have been,” Stroder said. “So I always keep it on me and kind of put it on when it gets really crowded.”

Some still chose to use face coverings — like Rick Balpreda and his wife, Kate.

“If two people on either side of us are not wearing a mask, yeah, I get a little uneasy,” explained Rick Balpreda.

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“Even though we are vaccinated, everyone has to test. We just feel a lot more comfortable,” Kate said. “We are not willing to go ahead and still take that chance.”

The option is bringing relief to some fans.

“I’m glad that they are gone,” explained Colin Bailey.

“It’s really fun being out here to be able to be in a crowd without masks on and enjoy the game like we have in the past,” said Littlejohn.

As mask mandates minimize in California, areas like China are doubling down with a resurgence of COVID cases.

Nicole Kelly at Shady Lady on R Street is prepping for their first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in two years.

“We are expecting a crowd, for sure,” she said. “I hope it stays this way. It’s good for business, it’s good for mental health, customers and employees.”

Customers like Katie Facciotti are planning for their green wardrobe with mixed feelings about ditching their mask accessory in crowded settings for the first time.

“I’ve been super careful this whole time, so this is a big deal for me,” she said. “I may actually wear my mask when I first go in, and then I’ll decide what I want to do once I’m there feeling excited and anxious.”

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A progression out of the pandemic leaves people hopeful for more celebrations to come.