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COVID-19 Reopening: Santa Clara And Santa Cruz Counties Move To 'Red' Tier; More Businesses Resume Indoor Operations

SANTA CLARA COUNTY (CBS SF) -- County health officials in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties on Tuesday confirmed that both regions have moved into the state's Red Tier for COVID-19 spread risk according to California's new four-tier coronavirus system.

While counties assigned to the Red Tier are still experiencing "substantial spread" of COVID-19, the state's framework allows counties moving from the Purple to Red Tier to reopen indoor operations at some additional businesses and allows certain activities to resume, as long as appropriate protocols and protective measures are in place and strictly followed.

Both counties have been reporting fewer than seven new cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate of less than 8 percent.

The following businesses and activities are now allowed to resume under the state's framework as well as Santa Clara County's Risk Reduction Order:

  • Personal care services: allowed to open indoors with modifications
  • Museums, zoos, aquariums: allowed to open indoors at 25% capacity
  • Gyms and fitness centers: allowed to open indoors at 10% capacity
  • Shopping malls: allowed to open indoors at 50% capacity (previously open at 25% capacity)

Hair salons and barbershops were previously allowed to open indoors with reduced capacity as of August 31st.

During a Tuesday afternoon news conference, Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams emphasized the importance of staying the course on social distancing. He also noted the progress the county had made compared to other parts of the Bay Area and the state.

"All of the basic principles -- face covering and social distancing and hand sanitation -- remain just as critical as before. And if we continue to stay focused on those core principles, we'll continue to be able to be as successful as we have been," said Williams. "And this movement to the Red Tier is a reflection on the fact that, here in our county, we are doing a bit better relative to many other parts of the state in combating COVID and it's really extraordinary how we've continue to come together as a community to be really rigorous, thoughtful and uniform in our application of these absolutely vital principles around preventing COVID transmission."

Santa Clara health officials said indoor dining, indoor gatherings and indoor movie theaters will not be able to reopen at the current tier.

Officials also noted that school openings for in-person instruction would only be considered once Santa Clara County has been in the Red Tier for 14 days. All schools must follow mandatory guidance set by the County of Santa Clara and the State of California.

"The county has done a lot of work in preparation for potential school opening, including putting out guidance several months ago, continuing to work with schools, along with the processing of waiver applications," said Williams.

During a question and answer period with officials, the counsel also noted that indoor religious services were still not happening because of the county's ban on indoor gatherings of any type.

The owner of the Blossom Nail Spa in Campbell was watching and waiting
as the county made the important announcement Tuesday afternoon.

"We couldn't believe it! We're just super ecstatic. We heard rumors about it, but I wouldn't believe it until it was official. And now it's official, we are open indoors!" said salon owner Linda Do.

The excitement was the same for the first client.

"It feels so good after six months and not having any pampering. This is exactly what I needed," said Kim Rozanski, a pediatric nurse who was getting a pedicure.

However, restaurant owners were not happy about Santa Clara County's more restrictive rules only allowing outdoor dining indefinitely.

"I'm happy that the salons can have inside customers now. I'm happy for the clients as well as the owners, but I do think it's unfair," said Ed Ramsay, who owns the Drying Shed restaurant in San Jose.

Santa Cruz County health officials also issued a press release on Tuesday after Gov. Newsom announced that Santa Cruz County had moved to the Red Tier, reducing some economic restrictions.

According to the press release, personal care services such as waxing, nails and massage, restaurants, places of worship, movie theaters, gyms and fitness centers, along with museums, zoos and aquariums will be able to open indoors with modifications to protect the health and safety of staff and the public beginning Tuesday.

Though health officials noted that moving to the Red Tier was a step in the right direction, the community was warned to be aware that another surge in COVID-19 cases is anticipated.

"Evacuations due to the CZU Lightning Complex Fires resulted in many people mixing with others from outside their household," the press release read. "If the case rate goes up, Santa Cruz County could return to the Purple Tier in 14 days.

As in Santa Clara County, school openings for in-person instruction will only be considered once a county has been in the Red Tier for 14 days and are subject to decisions by local school boards and administrators.

Len Ramirez contributed to this story.

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