Some Alameda County businesses to resume outdoor operations

Alameda County allowed a handful of business sectors to resume outdoor operations Friday after they were deemed to have a low risk of spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The county will allow personal care services like hair and nail salon and swimming pools to resume operating outside, with the exception of services like eyebrow threading and facial waxing that may require a customer to remove their face covering.

Wineries will also be allowed to offer outdoor tastings by appointment. They will not be required to serve food with alcohol, a rule that currently applies to businesses like breweries that operate outdoors.

County interim Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss encouraged residents to continue following local and state health and safety guidelines even if they plan to get a haircut outside or go swimming. “These outdoor activities we are allowing to reopen are relatively low risk,” Moss said, “but whenever we increase opportunities for people to mix, we see an increase in cases.”

Alameda County health officials issued the updated health order Aug. 21 but postponed the effective date to Friday due to the recent heat wave and subsequent fires in the Bay Area, which led to poor air quality for several days. The city of Berkeley, which operates within the county as an independent local health jurisdiction, issued an identical order allowing salons, pools and wineries to operate outside. That order will also take effect Friday.

Despite the evolving health guidelines, some businesses that would be eligible to resume operating outside have chosen to postpone doing so. Fremont’s Aqua Adventure Waterpark announced in June that it would not reopen until summer 2021, following consultations with state and local public health officials. The Wave water park in Dublin announced that it would resume lap swimming and water walking by reservation.

Under the health order, all other pool services and facilities like locker rooms, water slides and common areas must remain closed.

Alameda County schools are still required to operate via distance learning indefinitely while the county’s coronavirus case rate is still elevated to levels that state health officials deem unsafe.

Moss suggested students and school staff should prepare for an eventual return to in-person classes but gave no indication when that could happen. “We recognize the vital importance of classroom learning for children and youth, but we must take a slow and measured approach,” he said.

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