Santa Clara County businesses that want to reopen with restrictions after July 13 have less than a week to file new paperwork with local public health officials.
The California Department of Public Health, reversing a July 4 decision, this morning approved the county’s new plan for further reopening of offices and businesses. The state also clarified rules that will allow outdoor dining to continue in the county.
In announcing the decision at an 11:30am press conference, county Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody repeatedly emphasized the importance of strict social distancing controls.
“Every single person taking every single opportunity to prevent the spread of COVID 19, every single day, with every single interaction,” she said. “That is the only way we are going to get through this.”
To reopen, all businesses, including those currently open for customers, must submit new, updated plans for social distancing protocols by the start of next week at covid19prepared.org, county officials said.
Cody said the county submitted new information to the state on Monday night after her proposed order had been rejected for lack of specifics.
She didn’t say how the county may have revised her order to meet state concerns. “We met their metrics and their concerns,” she said.
The county said in a statement that it will be posting sector-specific directives related to the new order “over the coming days.”
The appearance of Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez at today’s press conference and her specific thanks to Gov. Gavin Newsom suggested that no small amount of political pressure was involved in the quick resolution of what had become a politically embarrassing point of conflict between Sacramento and the county.
Santa Clara County had been allowing outdoor dining, with social distancing, but that policy suddenly was jeopardized by raids on Morgan Hill restaurants July 3 by state Alcoholic Beverage Control officers. Outdoor dining will be allowed beginning next week if restaurants submit social distancing plans under the new order by July 13.
The state approval of its “variance attestation” added Santa Clara County to a list of nearly all California counties that are implementing approved plans for an “Expanded Stage Two” reopening of more businesses, offices and public spaces, despite record increases in number of cases and hospitalizations and a growing death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic. Only Alameda and one other county have not had supplemental reopening plans approved by the state.
The state on Sunday removed Santa Clara County from its “watch list” of 23 counties where special “strike teams” will be randomly enforcing sociai distancing and other public health rules related to COVID-19.
The new order, first announced July 2, in Santa Clara County gives the county new flexibility in applying “risk-reduction thinking” that emphasizes rigorous social distancing protocols while allowing a wider range of businesses to reopen and larger gatherings. “We could not have not done this without a variance,” Cody said.
The COVID-19 numbers in Santa Clara County, as well as California and across the U.S., are worse than ever. Cody said there were 450 cases reported in two days on the holiday weekend. “If we don’t change our behavior, our cases will continue to accelerate and we will be in big trouble,” she added.
The county plan will allow outdoor gatherings up to 60 people and indoor gatherings up to 20 people. It also allows businesses and offices to reopen, as long as they provide at least 250 square feet of space for each employee, roughly a 15x16-foot area and at least 150 square feet of space for each customer, roughly a 12-foot diameter circle, with strict rules that masks be worn at all times.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo today released a statement about the state approval of the county plan:
“I am grateful to Govenor Newsom, Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly and their teams for their continued partnership in granting Santa Clara County’s variance application. The state’s rapid response will save thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses at risk of permanently closing during this unprecedented health and economic crisis. This variance will allow more families to support themselves while businesses comply with strict safety guidelines--saving livelihoods and lives.”
More information about the new county order is available at sccgov.org/cv19.
Below is a list of what what is now allowed.
Early Stage 2: California is now open with modifications.
- Curb-side retail
- Childcare for those outside of the essential workforce
- Office-based businesses (telework remains strongly encouraged)
- Select services: car washes, pet grooming and landscape gardening
- Outdoor museums, open gallery spaces and other public spaces with modifications
In 56 counties, changes in the state’s stay-at-home order are gradually reopening the entire state, according to these county-specific plans for:
- Destination retail (retail stores), including shopping malls and swap meets
- Dine-in restaurants (other amenities such as bars or gaming areas are not permitted in Stage 2)
- Schools with modifications
- Limited-capacity religious services and cultural ceremonies
- Day camps
- Campgrounds, RV Parks, and Outdoor Recreation
- Card rooms, Satellite Wagering Facilities and Racetracks
- Family Entertainment Centers and Movie Theaters
- Restaurants, Bars, and Wineries
- Fitness Facilities
- Museums, Galleries, Zoos, and Aquariums
- Music, TV and film production
- Professional Sports without Live Audiences