Santa Clara Co. health order does away with phased reopenings

On Thursday, health officials in Santa Clara County announced a new health order that allows several businesses to reopen. Personal care services like hair and nair salons and massage therapy, gyms and fitness centers, and hotels and motels can reopen as long as people wear face coverings.

Among the activities that are not permitted include indoor dining, nightclubs, theatres, stadiums, and arenas. The county is also allowing outdoor gatherings for up to 60 people and indoor gatherings of up to 20 people. The new order could go into effect on July 13, once the state approves it.

“I’m ecstatic to have a date,” said Special FX Salon & Day Spa Owner Denise Russell. “I’m ecstatic to not lose my business.”

Russell has safety protocols in place at her business in San Jose. Stations are taped off to maintain six feet of distance, tools disinfected with barbicide are done in the open, new sanitation stations and an outdoor patio for customers to wait for their coloring to be done.

“We are human,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County public health officer. “We do need to get out of our homes sometimes. The order makes it very clear how to do so safely.”

The county is resuming activities despite an increase in COVID-19 cases and being on the state's watch list. Under the new health order, any activity where a face covering is removed remains prohibited.

The health officer said the county is being monitored for its change in hospitalizations.

“In our county, we still have relatively few people with COVID in the hospital,” said Dr. Cody. “You can think of it as going from very low to low but the change was enough to land us on the list.”

Businesses must meet certain criteria to reopen including social distancing, reporting positive COVID-19 cases and limiting capacity.

“One worker per every 250 gross square feet and one customer per every 100 square feet of space,” said Santa Clara County Executive James Williams.

“That’s going to limit a lot of businesses as far as how many employees and clients they can service,” said Erica Martin of W’s Salon.

Martin said the new criteria could mean her hours could be cut. Her salon is considering staggering stylists shifts.

“To put the restrictions on us as far as the square footage goes is something no other county has had,” said Martin.

“We are going to learn to coexist with this virus,” said Russell. “It’s not going to go away. I certainly don’t want to get sick. I don't want any of my staff sick.”

The new order encourages working from home. Some salons are offering virtual consultations.