Nail salons, gyms, restaurants confused after Santa Clara County's expanded reopening plans denied by state

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Business owners across the valley are expressing their mounting frustrations after California denied Santa Clara County's expanded reopening plan over the weekend.

"We've received lots of calls and emails asking you know when the gym is going to be back open," said Tory Reign, who co-owns WESTCA gym in San Jose. "It's been tough because we have no direction."

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Reign says he and his wife, Meaghan Karabatsos, have been paying full rent on their downtown workout facility since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The gym, which opened three years ago, is popular with fitness enthusiasts who travel from all throughout the South Bay to get in a good sweat.

"We're just kind of treading water and we're slowly sinking and right now, we're about up to our neck," said Reign.

VIDEO: Santa Clara Co. business owners frustrated after reopening plans rejected by CA
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Business owners across the valley are expressing their mounting frustrations after California denied Santa Clara County's expanded reopening plan over the weekend.



WESTCA has been using the downtime to prepare for its eventual reopening by spacing out machines and installing social distancing decals.

Karabatsos added, "We've been proud of the success and the community that we have built here, so every week that goes by that we're closed down, we just get a little more nervous."

Clients will be required to make a reservation and also undergo a temperature check upon arrival. Once on-site, each person will be given their own bottle of sanitizer to wipe down the equipment they use. Cleaning crews will disinfect the facility in between reservation sessions and throughout the day.

"Part of the fabric of our gym is people coming together in our community," said Karabatsos. "There is a value to that."

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As part of the county's slow and steady approach to reopening, gyms and salons were among the next set of businesses looking forward to welcoming back customers in mid-July.

"It's been four months now," Blossom Nail Spa owner, Linda Do told ABC7 News. "We need to reopen. If they don't allow us to reopen, we need answers. We need help."

Since shelter-in-place orders impacted her South Bay business, she's implemented new safety protocols which include physical barriers, no-contact scheduling and much more. Practices she had hoped would be in action by next week.

However, those plans are in limbo, after the state over the weekend denied the county's request for a variance to move ahead with its plan.

For Do, the move signified yet another dip on the COVID-19 emotional roller coaster.

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"The end result of this is we're all going to close out. All small businesses are going to die because of whatever issues the state and the county have," she said. "And we're the casualties."

"We believe that the strategy underlying that approach is the right strategy to keep the county safe," said County Deputy Executive David Campos, during a Monday afternoon media availability.

Campos says local officials are talking with the state about their decision to deny the variance, which can be partly blamed on the local COVID-19 hospitalization rate. This comes as confusion grows over the county's recent approval of outdoor dining, which the state said was a violation of the governor's stay-at-home order.

In an e-mail to County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody, the State's Department of Public Health explained, "The Santa Clara variance attestation does not meet the metrics or criteria necessary to be posted on the CDPH website at this time. In order for a counties attestation to be posted, all metrics must be met in their entirety."

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According to Campos, it's data tied to hospitalizations.

Over the weekend, thousands of restaurants and bars up and down California were visited by agents with the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and warned about possible citations should they continue to serve food outside. County officials maintain that the state order didn't expressly forbid them from authorizing outdoor dining.

Campos said, "We will continue to say that, unless or until the state informs us directly that that's not the case, and up until today, we have not received any information from any state agency that is in fact not true."

County officials say they continue to have talks with representatives from the state public health department over what should happen next.



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