Barbershops, salons and gyms in Santa Clara County will probably be allowed to reopen on July 13 after a shutdown that’s now in its 109th day.
County public health officer Dr. Sara Cody said yesterday (July 2) that her office is asking the state to allow the reopening of several personal services industries.
In neighboring San Mateo County, barbers, hair salons and gyms reopened on June 18. But Santa Clara County, which was the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to impose a stay-at-home order over the coronavirus, has been reopening more slowly.
If approved by the state, the county’s plan would allow certain businesses to open as long as they follow strict physical distancing guidelines. If approved, the plan will take effect July 13 or within two days of state approval.
The county is expected to soon release specific rules for hair and nail salons, athletic and religious gatherings, gym and fitness centers, public transit, construction, hotels/motels, food facilities, agriculture and children’s activities.
A new approach to reopening
Cody said yesterday that the county is moving from a phased reopening plan to a risk-aversion plan.
“We are at a point in this pandemic where it is crystal clear that COVID-19 will be with us for a long time,” Cody said. “And so, we need to adapt to a new way of being, a new way of living that keeps us all safe and allows us to do some of the things that we miss and cherish.”
She said several core principles now drive county requirements: outdoors is safer than indoors, more physical distance is safer than less physical distance, fewer and briefer contacts are safer than longer contacts, and face coverings should be worn consistently.
The county’s proposed guidelines would require businesses to complete a new social distancing protocol on the county website and have one worker for every 250 square feet in total and one for every 150 square feet of space open to the public.
The Santa Clara County plan requires employers to report COVID-19 positive cases at work sites, which enables faster investigation and contact tracing, and it encourages them to maximize telework.
“The goal is to try to set a new normal for what we can expect when we enter any business facility or engage in any activity,” said County Counsel James Williams.
Both hospitalizations and positive cases of COVID-19 have risen in the past two weeks in Santa Clara County, but it has had fewer cases per 100,000 residents than any other county in the Bay Area or urban region in California, Cody said.
Countywide, 2% of all COVID-19 tests are producing positive results.
Cody was the architect of the stay-at-home order in the Bay Area that preceded Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide order by several days in March.
Cody criticized Newsom’s reopening of the economy in early June even though California lost 3 million jobs and an untold number of businesses due to the shutdown. But she now says that even with increases in cases and hospitalizations in the county, she felt comfortable setting a date to reopen additional businesses.
The new order is about “acknowledging that we have been sheltering in place for a very long time” and need “something sustainable because we’re going to be at this for a while,” she said.
Newsom yesterday announced a new public awareness campaign with billboards, TV and radio ads and social media posts urging Californians to wear face coverings and reminding them of the danger of the virus. One ad shows a person breathing on a ventilator with a mask that reads: “Even without symptoms, you can spread COVID-19. And people can die. People like your mom.”
“If you think this hasn’t or won’t impact you because it hasn’t impacted you, I hope to disabuse you of that,” Newsom said during his daily televised news conference.
The ads are starting in English and Spanish and will eventually run in seven languages. The effort also includes social media ads and will focus specifically on Black and Latino communities, which are being disproportionately impacted by the virus.
The new campaign is funded in part by Silicon Valley groups and individuals, including hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer, a former Democratic presidential candidate and head of Newsom’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery.