Santa Clara County Moves to COVID-19 Red Tier, Restrictions Loosened

Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group

Indoor dining in Santa Clara county resumed on March 3rd. Seen here are diners at The Alameda in San Jose, Calif. Original source:

Jason Lin

On Tuesday, March 2, Santa Clara county announced shifting from the restrictive Purple Tier to the Red Tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The county will be following guidelines offered by the California state government and permit Red Tier activities starting March 3. Indoor dining, retail stores, movie theaters, zoos, museums, and aquariums can now open at 25% max indoor capacity. Gyms and fitness centers can also open at a maximum of 10% indoor capacity (MSN). Following the US supreme court order on 2/26/2021, indoor worship services have resumed at 20% maximum capacity in Santa Clara County, to the disappointment of many on the Santa Clara Public Health Council (SCC). 

The development of indoor dining comes at a crucial time for restaurants and other small businesses. Steve Kelly, vice president of marketing for the Bay Area’s Pacific Catch restaurants, pointed to the prospect of colder, rainy weeks still ahead as a big reason to be happy about this week’s upgrade. “The move to the red tier provides a much-needed lifeline to restaurants,” he said. “We’ve invested significant sums in our outdoor seating areas but the cooler winter weather has limited their usefulness.” (Mercury).

Beyond reopening, other measures have come into effect with the Red Tier declaration. Notably, Santa Clara County will no longer be enforcing The Health Officer’s Mandatory Directive on Travel (SCC), meaning that quarantine after traveling into Santa Clara county from an origin more than 150 miles away will no longer be mandatory. However, quarantining after travel is still recommended by public health experts, in alignment with the State’s Travel Advisory. Non-essential travel over 120 miles is discouraged to avoid the possible communal spread of SAR-COV-2 variants. 

Even though restrictions are loosening, mask-wearing and social distancing under the Santa Clara County 5th Risk Reduction Order will remain enforced. Santa Clara Public Health Officials urge the use of double masking and out-of-door activities to reduce COVID-19 spread. Commercial activities will also remain telework-focused, and businesses remain obliged to report new COVID-19 cases if they arise.  

Regarding vaccinations and testing, Santa Clara recently announced opening up vaccinations to agricultural, food, education, childcare, and emergency service sector workers under the phase 1B initiative, and opened an educator-focused vaccination clinic at the Santa Clara Fairgrounds on March 1. The clinic will vaccinate 500 workers in the education sector every day (SCC). Moreover, effective March 15 healthcare providers may vaccinate individuals aged 16-64 who are at very high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.

To quote Dr. Sara Cody, County Health Officer, and Public Health Director, “This is a pivotal moment: if our community continues to be cautious and follow public health guidance, things will continue to improve.” (SCC)