This is a breaking story, and will be updated as more information is provided
The improvements in COVID-19 infection rates for five California counties will allow them to move from the purple to the red tier in the state’s color-coded reopening plan, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday morning. It’s a change that will allow indoor dining to resume in those areas, if approved by each county’s health officials. In addition, Newsom said, eight more counties will be named in a “preview,” regions that “likely will be pulling out a week later,” moving out of the state’s most restrictive tier on March 2.
An updated map on the state’s COVID-19 tracker appears to list the newly-red counties: Humboldt, Shasta, Yolo, Marin, and San Mateo. They join Del Norte County (red), Plumas County (red), Sierra County (orange), Alpine County (orange), and Mariposa County (red). Trinity County, which was in the less-restrictive orange tier, returned to red on Tuesday. Thus far, every reopened county is in Northern California.
As of publication time, the eight “preview” counties have not been announced. But according to San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the city’s District 6 (which included the Tenderloin, Civic Center, and SoMa), San Francisco is likely to be on that list, with the green light to reopen the first week in March.
I’m hearing San Mateo and Marin will go to red tier this week.
San Francisco won’t go until early next week apparently.
Our case numbers are actually lower, but we won’t hit our equity indicator goals for a few more days.
But then we expect to hit orange 3 weeks later.
— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) February 23, 2021
However, it’s up to local health officers to make the final call, and only they can decide if activities like indoor dining can resume in a newly-red county. In the past, when San Mateo and Marin have moved “up” a tier, they’ve followed state guidance and reopened immediately. If that holds true today, the following “red tier” activities can resume immediately:
- Indoor restaurant dining rooms can open 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
- Retail stores, including malls, grocery stores and wine shops, can increase capacity to 50 percent
- Movie theaters can open at 25 percent capacity (but snack bars and concessions must remain closed)
Outside the food world, gyms and fitness studios can open indoors at 10 percent capacity, and museums can open indoors at 25 percent capacity once the red tier is reached.
In addition to Haney’s tweet, other local officials have suggested to Eater SF that San Francisco will be on the California DPH’s “preview” list, but even if it moves to the red tier on March 2, Haney suggests that there’s no promise that SF officials will allow indoor dining immediately. When SF entered the red tier in the summer of 2020, officials instituted a “lag behind” policy that allowed red tier-level reopening only when it reached the “orange” tier of reopening. So far, officials have not confirmed if they’d continue the lag-behind plan when things reopen again.
Thus far, SF officials haven’t made an official announcement on what it plans to reopen when its COVID-19 rates allow it to leave the purple, but this webinar from the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development might give some clues. Scheduled for 4 p.m. on February 24, it will “go over best practices for reopening under the expected guidelines, with a live Q&A session.” The session is open to all, and registration is available here.