By Anna Giles

PLACER COUNTY (CBS13) — A spike in COVID-19 cases sent counties tumbling backward through the tier system Tuesday.

As businesses scramble to adjust, Placer County leaders are promising to back off, telling business owners to do whatever it takes to stay afloat.

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The restaurants off Vernon Street have been taking the rules seriously. Many are using tents to keep up with outdoor seating during winter. But it’s also a relief for them to know the county won’t be sending out inspectors.

“I don’t try and look too far out there and get too far ahead of anything,” said Al Santos, the owner of Goose Port.

Santos said he’s taking call after call from people wondering if he’s still open. As confusion over the rules returns once again, Santos said he’s focused on keeping the customer happy.

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“Ultimately it’s the guest that’s my boss so I want to make sure that they’re comfortable,” he said.

Placer County slid back into the red tier Tuesday, meaning tighter restrictions on how many people businesses can have indoor operations. Restaurants are supposed to be at 25 percent capacity.

But Placer County leaders are promising a standoff approach. Supervisor Kirk Uhler said the message from the county board is clear.

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“We as a county are not enforcing any of the governor’s mandates. Pure and simple,” Uhler said. ”Do what you need to do to stay in business. Run your businesses. If your customers want to come in, accommodate them.”

As businesses in other counties get hit with fines for thousands of dollars, Placer County health officials said they’ll focus on an educational approach.

The Fig Tree Cafe Owner Josh Lickter said all of his staff wear masks and he set up a tent for outdoor seating.

“I appreciate how businesses-friendly Placer County has been,” he said.

Lickter said he intends to follow the rules and is hoping outdoor dining becomes accepted as routine.

“I’m hoping people will catch on to the idea that people go to football games outside, we watch bands perform outside, why not drink coffee outside,” he said.

Placer County leaders question the fairness of the tier system, especially after state health officials blamed private household gatherings for this recent COVID spike.

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