PHOTOS | ‘We’ve been waiting for this’: Santa Cruz County returns to red tier

Joey Ward from La Selva enjoys his first workout in almost a year at Cabrillo Fitness in Aptos.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Santa Cruz County residents and businesses moved to the less restrictive red tier Wednesday ... again. From working out to eating and drinking up, life moved closer to normal.

Santa Cruz County’s small business owners have done this dance before, multiple times, but this time feels different to most of them.

From downtown Santa Cruz favorite Zachary’s to Eastside institution the Silver Spur, breakfast spots wasted no time getting back into the delightfully greasy action with indoor dining at 25% capacity.

As Santa Cruz County inches out of the pandemic, Lookout is chronicling the changes in our lives and the accomplishments of everyday people. “People in the Pandemic” is one of eight Lookout initiatives documenting all aspects of life amid COVID. For more, go to our COVID 2021 section, and sign up for COVID Text Alerts and our COVID PM newsletter here.

Only three of nine Zach’s tables were currently occupied as of 8:45, a buzzing host reported. Meanwhile co-owner German Lopez at the Silver Spur said it felt like a piece of him has returned Wednesday — even if just a small piece."Oh, big time man — I feel like I missed a connection with the customers,” he said.

Cabrillo Fitness in Aptos could return to 10% capacity Wednesday — 35 people. The fitness club spent considerably on UV technology, along with ventilation and other safety features, and manager Shawn Johnston said it was just good to see a small hum of the gym back in motion. “We’ve been waiting for this,” he said.

Members at Cabrillo Fitness are greeted by Covid protocols to ensure safety.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
A masked Matt McGibben works his legs at Cabrillo Fitness.
A masked Matt McGibben works his legs at Cabrillo Fitness.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Natalie Dul and her trainer Delphine Houssin work out at Cabrillo Fitness.
Natalie Dul and her trainer Delphine Houssin work out at Cabrillo Fitness.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Cabrillo Fitness manager Shawn Johnston
Cabrillo Fitness manager Shawn Johnston shows off two of the gym’s eight UV light technology towers. Cabrillo Fitness invested in UV technology to keep rooms and equipment safe and clean.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Cabrillo Fitness manager Shawn Johnston demonstrates a UV light technology bin.
Cabrillo Fitness manager Shawn Johnston demonstrates a UV light technology bin. Members put weights, bands and other small items into this bin to keep them clean.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
The Silver Spur in Soquel saw customers flock back to indoor dining.
The Silver Spur in Soquel saw customers flock back to indoor dining.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Busser Rocio Rameno pours customer Mayra Almanza a cup of fresh brewed coffee at Silver Spur Restaurant.
Busser Rocio Rameno pours customer Mayra Almanza a cup of fresh brewed coffee at Silver Spur Restaurant.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Co-owner German Lopez cooks a meal at Silver Spur.
Co-owner German Lopez cooks a meal at Silver Spur. Lopez says he’s excited to be back serving customers and getting his staff back to work.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Bartender Nika Mohan pours a patron a drink at Melo Melo Kava Bar in downtown Santa Cruz.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
A COVID protocol sign at Melo Melo Kava Bar in downtown Santa Cruz, which reopened at 25% capacity indoors.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)