Santa Clara County red-tier reopenings ease economic pain

Santa Clara County moved into the state's red tier for California's Blueprint For a Safer Economy Wednesday, along with Napa County and San Francisco.

That means an easing of COVID restrictions and a lot of businesses are happily opening their doors to patrons.

When it comes to indoor dining or indoor workouts, there are still strict limitations on numbers.

But businesses say it's a step in the right direction.

For the first time in months, diners at LB Steak at Santana Row had a choice: sit outside or indoors.

"We're definitely excited. It's going to be great to have our guests back in the building. While we had outdoor dining, which was great, the atmosphere definitely changes once you come inside the restaurant," says Mark Mills, GM of LB Steak.

The loosened restrictions allow restaurants to do indoor dining at 25% capacity.

At Mezcal Restaurant in San Jose, that adds an extra six tables. They say each one is desperately needed.

"It's going to take about two weeks for people to start really saying you know I want to go inside. Anything helps at this point," says Adolfo Gomez of Mezcal.

The red tier allows gyms to open indoors at 10% capacity.

At 24-Hour Fitness in San Jose, people say it's a welcome change.

"Looking forward to being able to warm up easier and not be freezing outside," says Kaylyn Robertson, a gym member.

Also, making changes: museums. The San Jose Museum of Art will start welcoming in-person visitors March 12.

They say that's a good thing since some of their exhibits won't be around much longer.

"Barring Freedom" looks at prisons and justice and so far, most people have only been able to experience it virtually.

"There's no substitute for the experience of coming in the gallery and seeing the work; the artists' work live," says Sayre Batton, the Oshman Exec Director of the San Jose Museum of Art.

In the red tier, restrictions are also easing for movie theaters.

AMC announced it will be reopening five San Francisco and Santa Clara counties on March 5.