California denies Santa Clara County’s expanded reopening plan; confusion grows on outdoor dining

California denies Santa Clara County’s expanded reopening plan; confusion grows on outdoor dining

A request to ease lockdown rules that would’ve allowed larger gatherings and more business reopenings in Santa Clara County has been denied by the state, a county official said. The request for a variance was made on July 2 and would’ve allowed all businesses to reopen except those considered high-risk that necessitate taking off a mask — such as smoking lounges and indoor bars — as well as mass gatherings such as theaters and music venues. Had the variance been approved, the county would’ve issued unique orders tailored for reopening nail salons, gyms, construction and more. That order will no longer go into effect. The denial was confusing for Jeff Smith, Santa Clara County’s CEO, considering California has granted more leeway for other counties to reopen. “They’ve granted variances to basically every other county that’s applied and they deny ours,” Smith said. “It makes no sense.” The news comes as agents with California’s Alcoholic Beverage Control cast doubt on whether Santa Clara County’s order allowing outdoor dining — in effect since June 5 — has been in opposition to state orders. On Friday night, armed ABC agents visited several restaurants in Morgan Hill and Gilroy, informing them that they should shut down outdoor service on Saturday or risk a citation. That news was met by frustration and confusion from business owners as well as the mayor, city manager and police chief in Morgan Hill, who said they had received no warning or guidance from California that their city might not be ...
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