Indoor dining, gyms, movie theaters and other activities can resume with limitations after the state moved Santa Clara County into a less-restrictive tier due to its dipping Covid-19 numbers.

On March 3, the county will be classified in the Red Tier of the state’s reopening guidance. Santa Clara County reported a 2.1 positivity rate as well as 5.8 cases per 100,000 residents, which qualified it for the tier after being in the most-restrictive Purple Tier since November.

“We’re coming out of a devastating winter surge that claimed the lives of too many county residents,” said County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. “But now we find ourselves on firmer footing.”

Positivity rates in South County remain the highest in the county, with Gilroy and Morgan Hill reporting rates between 5-8 percent as of Feb. 14, according to the most recent data available.

Under the Red Tier, indoor dining, as well as movie theaters, can resume at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Retail stores can increase their capacity to 50 percent, while gyms and fitness centers can open indoors at 10 percent capacity.

The county’s mandatory quarantine after traveling is also lifted, although officials still urge travelers to quarantine following the state’s guidance.

Santa Clara joined six other counties in the state that moved to the Red Tier on March 2.

Cody, along with County Counsel James Williams and Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, urged the public during a March 2 press conference to continue masking up, stay socially distant from others, avoid non-essential travel and get vaccinated when it is their turn.

“If we keep that up collectively as a community, we can maintain the progress we have made and build on it, and not be in a place like we had been after Thanksgiving,” Williams said.

The county is now focusing most of its efforts on vaccinations, Cody said. On Feb. 28, the vaccine eligibility expanded to include workers in education, childcare, emergency services, and the food and agriculture industries, in addition to healthcare workers and those age 65 or older.

As of March 1, a little more than 20 percent of residents aged 65 and older have received both doses of the vaccine, while 58 percent have received at least one dose, according to county data.

The county’s goal is to vaccinate 85 percent of the eligible population by mid-summer, although dose supply remains the largest hurdle, Cody said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Feb. 27, which joins the other vaccines currently in use from Pfizer and Moderna. Unlike those vaccines, Johnson & Johnson’s only requires one dose to be effective, health officials said.

For information on vaccination sites and to schedule an appointment, visit

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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