Revised health order allows Santa Cruz County to reopen to tourists Friday

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Whether in the mountains, on the boardwalk, or through downtown, people across the City of Santa Cruz told ABC7 News they're ready for any level of reopening.

Resident, Kyle Hofstetter explained he's ready to welcome the usual summer rush, during this most unusual time.

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"This place would be packed right now," Hofstetter said, pointing to surrounding downtown streets. "It would be standing room only on the sidewalks, there'd be a line to get into the movie theater."

The reality he described may return soon, as Santa Cruz County's newly revised health order, released on Tuesday, lifts some major restrictions that go into effect on Friday.

A major change is the removal of lodging restrictions.

"We probably won't be full occupancy. It's going to be a slower, gradual opening," General Manager of Chaminade Resort and Spa, Kevin Herbst said. "We're expecting 30 to 40-percent occupancy this weekend, then building the rest of the month of June."

Chaminade joins a list of other hotels, motels and vacation rentals able to get back to business on Friday.

Herbst explained, COVID-19 shut down the 300-acre property after a $10 million renovation.

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The property first shut down in January for the transformation. Then, a portion of the property was reopened. By mid-March, the pandemic hit and it put a stop to all business.

Herbst said he had to lay off a majority of his staff, but new restrictions have allowed him to bring back about 40-percent of employees.

"On a typical weekend in the summertime, Chaminade would sell out every weekend. Every Friday, Saturday, and sometimes Sundays," he said.

He anticipates business will build into July and through August as travelers get back out and get comfortable.

Herbst added, "We don't anticipate we'll be fully back up to where we were previously until about 2021."

He said a majority of travelers to the resort and spa come from the Bay Area.

On Thursday, we met tourists coming into Santa Cruz, from even farther.

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Michael Downes and Rachel Thornton traveled from the UK. They are in town for a wedding and spent the afternoon taking in the quintessential California scene.

"The boardwalk- which is like, obviously very traditional and very old- is first class," Downes told ABC7 News. "And it's been nice just chilling on the beach."

To be clear, the new order actually extends partial beach closures through July 6.

However, county visitors can make use of movie theaters, family entertainment centers, museums, galleries, and aquariums. Gyms and fitness centers, swimming pools, campgrounds and RV parks also make the list.

Tasting rooms, brewpubs and bars have also been given the OK to operate in accordance with State guidelines.

On Thursday, resident Hofstetter added, "For a lot of people, knowing that places are going to be open is very welcome news."

For the full release on the County's revised health order, click here.

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