7 California Counties, Including San Francisco, Move To Less Restrictive Tier In Covid-19 Reopening Plan

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Tom Tapp
·3 min read
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San Francisco movie theaters can now reopen.

As previewed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday, seven additional California counties were confirmed on Tuesday to be moving into the red tier of his reopening plan. That was confirmed by the state’s official dashboard — see map below for a quick-glance color-coded reference. Those counties had a total population of over 3 million people, the most populous being San Francisco and Santa Clara.

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San Francisco Mayor London Breed made the announcement late Tuesday morning saying in a statement, “As of today, March 2, San Francisco has met the criteria based on its COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and other health metrics, to advance to the less restrictive red tier on the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.”

In addition to the Bay Area county, the list includes El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, San Luis Obispo and Napa, where governor Newsom’s Plumpjack winery is located.

Movement into the red tier means that movie theaters can reopen for indoor operations at 25% capacity or a total of 100 people, whichever is fewer. Restaurants can reopen indoors subject to the same restrictions. Retail stores, shopping centers, zoos and museums can operate at 50% capacity. Hotels can reopen with modifications. Gyms can reopen indoors at very limited capacity. Amusement parks are to remain closed until counties reach the least stringent, or yellow, tier.

The changes take effect Wednesday, according to the California Department of Public Health.

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Governor Newsom also indicated that the state will preview next week’s movement on Tuesday, saying he anticipates “even more momentum.”

“We do expect that a majority of Californians in the next few weeks to be residing in counties that our out of the most restrictive purple tier,” he revealed.

Eleven lightly-populated counties are already in looser tiers, including Alpine, Del Norte, Humboldt, Marin, Mariposa, Plumas, San Mateo, Shasta, Sierra, Trinity and Yolo. Sierra and Alpine are even further along than the others in the orange tier.

According to state data released Tuesday, there are another 11 of the state’s 58 counties poised to move to less restrictive tiers the week after next. They are Alameda, Alpine, Butte, Calaveras, Imperial, Mariposa, Mono, Placer, Plumas, Santa Crux, Solano and Tuolumne.

The reopenings come, of course, amidst a growing dissatisfaction with Newsom’s handling of the pandemic which has crystalized into a recall campaign against him. In the past week, the governor has pushed hard to reopen schools, announcing an agreement with the state legislature on Monday that must still be ratified.

Once a county’s numbers reach the required levels for a tier, they must stay at that level for 3 consecutive weeks before reopenings can begin. Thus, a county is not announced to be in the red tier until its data has remained constant — or dropped — for the better part of a month.

That means Los Angeles and Orange Counties, which are just outside the red tier — may edge below the threshold next week, but must remain there for a further two weeks before purple-level restrictions will be lifted. If and when that occurs, about half the state’s 40 million inhabitants will have progressed out of the purple tier.

See Newsom’s tweet below for a chart indicating how the different tiers are measured.

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