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New health order could allow more businesses to reopen in Santa Clara County

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SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — The Health Officer issued a new order Thursday for Santa Clara County that if approved by the state, will allow more businesses to continue operations.

If approved, the respective businesses must still follow strict, mandatory directives with rules to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

The specific industries and activities include:

  • Personal services: hair and nail salons, massage therapy, other body care services
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Construction
  • Recreational and athletic activities
  • Gatherings: social, economic, religious, cultural, other purposes
  • Agriculture
  • Hotels and motels
  • Public transit
  • Childcare, summer camps, children’s activities
  • Pools
  • Outdoor dining
  • Food facilities

“If we want our kids back in school, if we want our lives back, we have to work together to make that happen,” County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez said.

In the last two weeks — County of Santa Clara Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody says they’ve had fewer coronavirus cases per hundred thousand residents than any other county in the Bay Area.

But their daily case counts are rising — and are much higher than they were at any time in April.

The number of patients in county hospitals is also increasing.

“In recent weeks, we have seen a continued and now an accelerated increase in COVID-19 cases in our county and surrounding communities and throughout the state,” Dr. Cody said.

Despite this — the county is moving ahead with reopening some businesses in the county.

In addition to the County Health Officer Order, businesses and residents must comply with the state’s stay-at-home order. All businesses and residents must follow the directives, as well as the guidance issued by the state.

If the state approves the county’s application for the order before July 13, then the order will go into effect July 13. Otherwise, the order will go into effect two days after the state approves it.

“This virus has proven time and again in communities around the country and around the world that it will come back with a vengeance if you let your guard down,” Dr. Cody said. “We will not let our guard down.”

Business facilities that pose a high risk of COVID-19 transmission will remain closed. These include any indoor facility used for activities where face masks are removed like indoor dining and bars, saunas, nightclubs, theaters, etc.

The order requires that all businesses that are open for their workers or customers follow a set of rules to reduce the spread of the virus.

Telework

All businesses must continue to require workers to do their jobs from home whenever possible. Workers can go into work only to do jobs they cannot do from home.

New Social Distancing Requirements

Businesses must also complete and submit an updated social distancing protocol for each of their facilities on the county’s website.

Capacity Limitations

Additionally, businesses must comply with the same density limitations. There may be no more than one worker per 250 square feet of the facility and no more than one customer or resident per 150 square feet of open space.

Positive Case Reporting

All businesses are legally required to report to the Public Health Department within four hours if they learn that any of their workers are confirmed to be positive for COVID-19.

Gatherings

The order strongly discourages gatherings, but allows outdoor gatherings of up to 60 people and indoor gatherings of up to 20 people. Gatherings have special rules and must comply with the Health Officer’s mandatory directive on gatherings.

Face Coverings

Everyone must comply with the face covering guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health, which requires most people to wear a face covering most of the time whenever they leave home.

Though this would give residents and businesses access to more activities, health officials are encouraging everyone to continue to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by staying home as much as possible.

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