reopening the bay area

Gilroy City Council Petitions County to Relax Stay-At-Home Restrictions

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As counties push to reopen on their own, there's one South Bay city petitioning Santa Clara County to let it reopen.

Gilroy's City Council said business was just recovering after last year's Garlic Festival shooting. And now in the pandemic, consumers are flocking to a county just miles away.

Like all cities across the country, Gilroy has been hit hard financially by the pandemic. Mayor Rolando Velasco said it's time to let the city reopen like other counties in California.

"Our intent is not to be some sort of outlier, but our businesses are hurting," Velasco said.

The mayor points out Gilroy is geographically removed from the denser parts of Silicon Valley, and said the city has only seen two positive COVID-19 cases in the past 37 days.

"Ideally we'd like to open up a lot of things including our retail outlets, but at this point we're willing to take what we can get," Velasco said.

Gilroy is 33 miles from downtown San Jose, but only 12 miles from parts of San Benito County, where restrictions were eased two weeks ago.

Customers in San Benito County can dine in restaurants and visit shops. Santa Cruz County could do the same soon.

"We're losing business even more now because other counties around us are going into expanded Phase 2, where we've barely dipped our toe into Phase 2," Gilroy Chamber of Commerce President Mark Turner said.

Gilroy businesses, like The Milias Restaurant, have seen it too.

"I don't think I've cried as much in my entire life as I have in the last week," said Ann Zyburra, co-owner of The Milias Restaurant.

The restaurant opened in 1885. The owners are not sure they can make it another month.

"So it's seen a lot of horrible situations and it's survived it, but I don't know if it's going to survive this one," Zyburra said.

Any decision on reopening lies solely with the public health officer.

Santa Clara County said it is still monitoring case and hospitalizations numbers since easing restrictions last week. The county will wait a full 14-day incubation period. If numbers do not spike, more can reopen next week.

Deputy County Executive David Campos, a spokesperson for Santa Clara County, provided the following statement:

"As Dr. Cody has shared publicly, reopening activities in the County will be done as quickly as it can be done safely.  The County’s Shelter in Place Order was amended to reopen numerous sectors and activities on May 22nd, and we will wait at least an incubation period (two weeks) to open additional sectors, announcing modifications to the order several days before they take effect.  This ensures that any changes to the order are made with appropriate information about the effect of prior changes to ensure the safety of the community.  We continue to be encouraged by the data related to containment of the virus within the County, and look forward to sharing next steps with the community very soon."

View Gilroy's petition here.

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