SANTA CLARA COUNTY (CBS SF) — New parts of Santa Clara County’s economy and civic life will be allowed to reopen Friday after weeks of being shuttered by the novel coronavirus pandemic and the efforts to slow its spread. 

The county’s health officer announced Monday that in-store retail, outdoor dining, childcare, summer camps and manufacturing will be allowed to resume, as will religious, cultural and civic activities.

“The global pandemic is ongoing, and we must continue to protect the health and well being of our entire community, especially those most vulnerable to serious illness and death from COVID-19,” County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said in a news release.

“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,” Cody said. “For all those reasons, we have chosen to be measured in how and when we reopen.”

Conditions are favorable for the move due to several factors, including increased testing, decreased numbers of positive tests, low rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations and increased case investigations and contact tracing, according to county officials.

Other activities that will now be permitted include no-contact and low-contact service businesses like shoe repair and house cleaning.

Also, all children are will be allowed to attend childcare, summer camps, summer school and “other educational and recreational programs, so long as groups are limited to 12 or fewer,” according to the county, and “outdoor gatherings of up to 25 will be allowed for religious services and cultural ceremonies.”

People will also be allowed to partake in any outdoor recreational activities that do not involve physical contact, like swimming, and car-based gatherings, like drive-in movies.

The new order comes after the county had already reopened some construction activities, outdoor businesses and curbside retail sales in May. 

Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino praised the fact that many of the county’s businesses will be allowed to begin getting back to work and said many business leaders helped craft the plan to reopen.

The order requires employers to develop return-to-work plans that gradually reintroduce people back into their workplaces, that prioritize employee health and that rely on scientific and medical data as well as county and state guidelines, according to Leadership Group officials. 

Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese said that the easing of some restrictions is possible because of the cooperation of the vast majority of county residents during the shelter-in-place period.

“I am confident we can keep reopening these areas successfully while taking precautions to keep people safe,” Cortese said. “This is only a victory if we keep up our vigilance to stop coronavirus from spreading. That will be even more difficult in the days and weeks ahead.”

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