SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Owners of restaurants and other businesses in Santa Clara County are eyeing the progress other neighboring counties are making towards reopening and wondering when it will be their chance to enter the state’s COVID-19 Red Tier.

“When we were open for outdoor dining and that was taken from us, it was pretty rough from an economic standpoint. I mean it just devastated us as a restaurant and really the industry in general,” said Dan Holder, owner of Jack Holder’s Restaurant in San Jose.

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Holder has set up, torn down and set up again a tent for outdoor dining outside his restaurant, as the pendulum of public health orders has swung from closing to reopening and back. He said he would welcome a return to the state’s red tier and a reopening on limited indoor dining.

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“Potentially going to the Red Tier, it again gives us cautious optimism. But again, that word of ‘caution’ has got to be out there for all of us,” said Holder.

As of Monday, Santa Clara County is currently stuck in the state’s most restrictive Purple Tier.

In order to move into the Red Tier, the county’s new daily case numbers would have to decrease significantly.

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Currently, Santa Clara County has 17.7 new daily cases per 100,000. The state’s criteria for entering the Red Tier is four to seven new daily cases per 100,000.

“It really felt like 2020 was just a matter of me taking a whole bunch of money, putting it in the street and laying it on fire, to be honest,” said Eric Nielsen, owner of SP2 restaurant.

SP2 restaurant in Downtown San Jose. (CBS)

SP2 restaurant in Downtown San Jose. (CBS)

Nielsen said his two restaurants in downtown San Jose flat lined in 2020; business was down 80 to 85% compared to pre-pandemic levels. Nielsen said he was forced to lay off all but a handful of his employees.

With a return to the Red Tier, he said he hopes to reverse that.

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“When we do move into better tiers, people are much more inclined to go out. They feel safer, the county is letting them know that the spread isn’t as bad,” said Nielsen.