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Santa Clara County later this week will begin opening more “non-essential” businesses, including in-store retail, childcare and summer camps, outdoor dining and religious, cultural and civic activities.

These sectors will be permitted to resume, with social distancing guidelines in place, as of June 5, according to Santa Clara County Health Officer Sara Cody.

“As a community and as a nation, we are experiencing some of the most difficult and challenging times many of us have ever experienced,” Cody said. “The Covid-19 virus has had an impact on every aspect of our lives. It has been particularly devastating to low income communities and communities of color in our county and across our state and nation. This has been compounded by structural inequities that exist in our society that are unjust, persistent and damaging.”

Other sectors that will resume in Santa Clara County June 5 are manufacturing and small service businesses.

County public health officials will continue to monitor local Covid-19 indicators to “ensure that we can continue to identify infections, ensure people can safely isolate and prevent infections and their spread whenever possible,” reads a press release from the county.

The county will continue to work with low-income communities and people of color to plan and implement measures that address testing needs and accommodations for safe isolation, work safety and prevention of the spread of Covid-19.

Key metrics that show Santa Clara County has improved its containment of Covid-19 include:

• Testing is steadily increasing and the positivity rate is decreasing across the county, including in communities and environments where people are at greatest risk and where the county has done significant outreach;

• Rates of Covid-19 across the county are low and holding steady, including in populations at greater risk;

• Hospitalization rates are low and steady across the county;

• Outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities have been successfully contained;

• Case investigation and contact tracing capacity is steadily increasing and is staying ahead of demand.

In light of this progress, the updated order expands previously permitted business activity to include outdoor dining at restaurants and in-store shopping at retail locations, subject to limitations and social distancing guidelines, county staff said. No-contact in-home services like house cleaning, and other low-contact service businesses such as shoe repair will be allowed to reopen.

All children are now permitted to take part in childcare, summer camps, summer school or other educational and recreational programs, so long as groups are limited to 12 or fewer. Outdoor gatherings of up to 25 will be allowed for religious services and cultural ceremonies.

Any outdoor recreational activities that do not involve physical contact and adhere to social distancing protocols, such as swimming pools, will be allowed to resume. Car-based gatherings, including drive-in theaters, will now be permitted.

The county’s June 1 announcement amending the shelter-in-place order builds on the May 4 and May 22 amendments, which respectively allowed construction and outdoor businesses to resume operation with health and safety precautions in place and permitted retail businesses to open for curbside pick-up along with associated manufacturing and logistics. The county initially implemented the stay-home order March 17.

“The global pandemic is ongoing, and we must continue to protect the health and wellbeing of our entire community, especially those most vulnerable to serious illness and death from Covid-19,” Cody added. “Public health is about ensuring health in every sense of the word: from diseases like Covid-19 and from social and economic impacts on health too. For all those reasons, we have chosen to be measured in how and when we reopen.”

Supervisor Mike Wasserman, who represents South County on the board of supervisors, added more details in his weekly newsletter, released June 1. Also permitted to open June 5 are pet grooming, weddings, funerals, protests and other “constitutionally protected gatherings,” as long as they don’t draw more than 25 attendees.

Wasserman also encouraged residents to get tested for Covid-19 at any of numerous free testing sites in the county. Call 888-334-1000 to schedule an appointment. “Pinpointing the virus through testing is one of the important ways we can hasten the road to recovery,” Wasserman said in the newsletter.

As of June 1, there have been 2,805 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Santa Clara County, with 142 deaths, according to the county’s online coronavirus data dashboard. There were 29 cases reported on May 31.

There have been 67 cases reported in Morgan Hill, 92 in Gilroy and 1,817 in San Jose.

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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