Businesses hopeful as Santa Clara County moves into COVID orange tier

The daily special for many Santa Clara County businesses starting Wednesday: more customers allowed inside.

After seven months, this county has moved up into the orange tier of COVID reopening.

“So it will really help. We can bring some more of the crew back, and welcome them, the ones  that are ready to come. And it will really help us continue in business,” said the owner of Pedros Restaurant.

County officials say the average daily new COVID case count has steadily declined since July. Additionally, a low positivity rate also led state officials to move the county up one tier.

“It will be a very a very significant easing of restrictions,” Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said during an Oct. 6 news conference.

Restaurants, movies, and houses of worship can now have 25% occupancy or 100 people inside. Museums and zoos can have 50% occupancy. Indoor pools are now open. Malls have no occupancy limit, but common areas remain closed. Fitness center can have 25% occupancy or a maximum of 100 people inside.

“It’s great. We are cautious and we take a lot of responsibility keeping our clients and our trainers as safe as possible,” said Shannon Bynum Adams, owner of Urban Body San Jose, a pilates exercise space.

She said a cleaning regimen is in place to protect clients, some of whom unabashedly welcome a return to indoor train.

“As long as the systems are in place and protocol is supported, there’s no reason this would contribute to an increase in covid cases,” said Debbie Leale, a pilates enthusiast who was eager to get back inside for a workout.

San Jose State University strategic management professor Dr. Robert Chapman Wood said the linger effects of Covid have been an economic drag in the Bay Area and beyond. Moving from 10%-to-25% indoor occupancy is a start, but still a long way from a healthy business climate.

“As things open a little more, that’s gonna give a little bit more (of a) crack, but we’re still struggling,” said Dr. Wood. “There’s a tradeoff between being safe and getting the economy rolling.”

Business owners, patrons, and even health officials are hopeful continued declines in key indicators will lift the county up, into the next tier of recovery from COVID-19.