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Today’s lifting of the regional stay-at-home order brought Santa Cruz County businesses back into the purple tier — a status that now feels full of freedom for some, despite the many restrictions.

Outdoor dining, hair and nail salons, barber shops, and gyms had been completely closed since the Bay Area stay-at-home order was imposed on Dec. 17. The purple tier means they can re-open under certain restrictions. But winter weather, confusion over the regulations, and trying to re-open after a long closure are just some of the challenges they have to overcome.

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Pleasure Pizza’s Eastside Eatery re-opened their patio on Monday as soon as they heard the news. They haven’t had many customers today though, which Tessa Schaller, a manager and server at the restaurant attributed partly to people not knowing the news yet, but mostly the windy weather.

“We’ve had several calls inquiring [whether we were open for dine-in],” Schaller said. “But people called to inquire the whole time we were shut down.”

Not every restaurant was able or willing to spring back into action as quickly. Oswald’s downtown said in an answering service that they are “not equipped for rainy weather at this point,” so they continue to offer take-out only until Feb. 10.

Gyms are now able to offer outdoor fitness classes, and Michael Harbison, the general manager at the Live Oak Toadal Fitness branch said it’s “more than likely” they would open that up soon. Harbison said he was “waiting to see what the county says, if it will be exactly the same as it was in the purple tier the last time.”

Hair and nail salons are another sector that has been hit hard. Kim Nguyen, the owner of Kim’s Salon on the Westside, said she was very excited to re-open. Until now there’s been “nothing to do but stay home and be lazy,” she said. She’s had lots of customers calling in, but she hasn’t been able to offer them anything.

Now, she’s planning to re-open Feb. 1 after she’s had a few days to clean up the salon and get ready.

Nguyen is so relieved to be open for business again, having endured a long year of changing restrictions and many openings and closings. “Next time I’m not going to close,” she said jokingly with a laugh.

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Follow Mallory Pickett on: Twitter. Mallory brings deep expertise in environmental issues to Lookout, as well as national reporting experience that she will now apply in her hometown of Santa Cruz. She...