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Santa Clara Moves into Orange Tier, Indoor Dining and Indoor Gatherings Allowed

This afternoon, Santa Clara County has moved into the less restrictive Orange Tier in the State’s reopening framework, according to Dr. Mark Ghaly, the State’s Secretary of Health and Human Services Agency. This sparks the start of Santa Clara County’s new COVID-19 Risk Reduction Order which allows indoor dining and indoor gatherings with restrictions. This order goes into effect on Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 12:01 a.m. Santa Clara County is the first large county in California to move to the Orange Tier.

Last week, Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer and Director of Public Health for the County of Santa Clara, promised if the County moved from the Red Tier to the Orange Tier, they would reopen more — namely, indoor dining and indoor gatherings with stricter capacity limits, which are more similar to the Red Tier’s guidance.

Under the new order, the following will be allowed on Oct. 14 but in a stricter way:

  • Indoor dining up to 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
  • Indoor gatherings of up to 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Includes movie theaters, churches, cultural ceremonies.
  • Outdoor gatherings of up to 200 people.

Dr. Cody said these activities are especially risky. Face covering rules are still in place.

“It is imperative that we all continue to practice the precautions that have made our COVID-19 numbers move in the right direction,” said Dr. Cody. “The fact that you are able to do something doesn’t mean that you should.”

Additionally, moving into this new tier allows capacity changes and other openings which are aligned with the State’s guidelines:

  • Aquariums and museums can increase to 50 percent capacity.
  • Gyms can now be at 25 percent capacity.
  • Cardrooms can open indoors with 25 percent capacity.
  • Family entertainment and indoor playgrounds can open at 25 percent capacity.
  • College sports activities without fans following County and State requirements.
  • No capacity limitation for malls and other retail businesses.
  • Bars, breweries, distilleries and wineries that don’t serve meals can reopen outdoors only.

However, the following are still not open: concert venues and convention centers, live theatre, night clubs, and theme parks.

All businesses must continue to require workers to work from home whenever possible. Also, businesses are legally required to report to the Public Health Department within 4 hours in the event of a positive COVID-19 case.

With this new Risk Reduction Order in place, County Counsel James R. Williams says all businesses have to complete a new Social Distancing Protocol to be able to operate. This is because they are changing density limits and changing capacity limits. So, even if your business currently has one, you will need a new Social Distancing Protocol. Prior Social Distancing Protocols must be updated within 14 days of when the Revised Order takes effect.

The County and State also announced some revised directives that went into effect last month and earlier this month:

  • Revised Mandatory Outdoor Dining Directive: Some ambient musical performances are now allowed for outdoor dining. There are also new shade guidelines. Read more on the County’s website.
  • Revised Mandatory Personal Care Services Directive: Services to the face and facial services can now be provided with modifications and the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). Read more on the County’s website.
  • Revised guidance on the reopening and usage of outdoor playgrounds. Read more on the State’s website.

Counties move through the state’s reopening framework using three pieces of data: COVID-19 daily case rate, test positivity rate, and a new equity measure. The County currently has a “credit” towards its case rate due to the amount of testing the County does. The County has been aggressively increasing testing to take full advantage of the “testing credit.” Additionally, the County meets the State’s new health equity metric which says the test positivity rate for the most disadvantaged groups must also meet the mark for the less restrictive tier.

The next less restrictive tier after the Orange Tier is Yellow and there is not another tier after that. Santa Clara must stay in the Orange Tier for at least three weeks before it can move to the Yellow Tier.

More information is available on the County’s website.


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