State orders closure of indoor businesses in Santa Clara County

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By Grace Hase

For a few hours on Monday it seemed as though gyms, salons and other indoor operations would remain open in Santa Clara County, despite orders from Gov. Gavin Newsom to shut down businesses in jurisdictions on the state’s Covid-19 watch list.

But that all changed shortly before 5pm, when local health officials announced that the county had been put back on the watch list the night prior.

Now, many businesses that reopened Monday—as well as some that opened in June—will have to close effective July 15. That includes indoor worship services or protests, gyms, offices in nonessential sectors, personal care services, hair salons, barbershops and malls.

“The fight against Covid-19 is unfortunately far from over, but our residents and businesses have shown how we can collectively make an extraordinary difference in saving lives and safeguarding our community,” Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said. “We strongly urge everyone to rigorously and consistently follow the state and local health orders.”

In his noon press conference, and related Twitter and Facebook posts, the governor listed 30 counties on his “monitoring list,” adding that two more would be added Tuesday.

What he didn’t know was that Alameda and Santa Clara counties had been added to the list the night before—and the counties didn’t know either, until the question came up at his press conference, according to Santa Clara officials.

State public health officials had neglected to tell both the governor’s office and officials in the two counties they had been added to the list.

Monday was the deadline the county had set last week as the deadline for businesses to apply to be included in its new order allowing some businesses to open indoor operations. This wasn’t the first time that the state pulled the rug out from under county public health officials.

Over the last few weeks, Santa Clara County’s reopening plans have been fraught with confusion. On July 3, officers with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control showed up at numerous Morgan Hill restaurants, stating that the county was never approved to open outdoor dining in the first place.

The next day, the state rejected the county’s reopening plan, only to reverse the decision three days later, after Santa Clara County was taken off the state’s watch list.

Santa Clara County has seen an uptick in both cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks. Monday afternoon, county officials reported 253 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death from complications of the virus, bringing the local death toll up to 167.

As of Sunday, 129 people were hospitalized for COVID-19, compared to 86 people at the same time the week prior.