SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – Santa Clara County restaurants may continue to offer outdoor dining.  

The confusion over whether the county had state permission to do so has been cleared up.

The county will soon be able to move ahead with a new order allowing many other businesses to welcome back their customers.

The granting of a variance means Santa Clara County can move forward with its latest health order.  

The variance permits most businesses, except those considered “high risk,” to reopen with social distancing and mask requirements.  

It allows for more flexibility, says health officer Dr. Sara Cody.

“We want to continue to enable outdoor dining and with this variance we can continue to allow outdoor dining as well as some other sectors and activities, we can enable them to come online,” Dr. Cody said.

The variance was granted after state agents ordered Morgan Hill’s Ladera Grill and other restaurants to stop serving outdoors.  

They are pleased with the new order, says Ladera’s Dan McCranie.

“It doesn’t makes sense why the state sent agents in to tell us that we are in violation, when there was no statute. It just doesn’t make sense, they really ought to figure it out for future communications, but for right now, for myself and my employees and my managers, we’re just delighted that we’re back to having outside dining,” McCranie said.

Aside from outdoor dining, the new order means gyms, nail and hair salons, churches and child care can open but officials warned we are currently losing the battle against the virus and reopening must be focused on personal responsibility.

“Closing a restaurant doesn’t stop somebody from having a large gathering at their home. And the virus has passed through those large gatherings,” Dr. Jeff Smith said.

High risk businesses that still cannot open are indoor dining, bars and nightclubs, theme parks and concert venues. 

The new order is based on a strategy of risk reduction with three core values says doctor cody.

“1. Outdoors far safer than indoors. The evidence is still acumulating but it’s getting stronger — outdoors safer than indoors. 2. More distance is better than less distance. Always maintain a distance of at least 6-feet, more is better. Number 3, briefer contacts safer than longer contacts,” Dr. Cody said.

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