Covid-19: SB County downgrades to ‘substantial’ sector

Several more businesses allowed to reopen with restrictions

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San Benito County officials are reporting that the county is jumping down a tier in the Covid-19 risk level metrics, making it possible for several businesses and schools to reopen.

Dr. David Ghilarducci, County interim Public Health Officer, announced on Oct. 13 that the county’s risk level was downgraded from “widespread” to “substantial” in the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. 

The new tier allows indoor restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, tattoo studios and places of worship to open with restrictions. 

New changes under the “substantial” tier, or red status, allow personal care services like tattoo, piercing, body waxing and esthetician services are permitted to open indoors. Retail establishments, except for standalone grocers, and indoor malls are allowed to open indoors at 50 percent capacity. 

Places of worship, movie theaters and restaurants are permitted to open indoors with 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Museums are also allowed to open indoors with 25 percent capacity.

Gyms and fitness centers—including hotel fitness centers—are permitted to open indoors with slightly less people at 10 percent capacity. 

The “substantial” risk sector, or also known as Tier 2 red status, also allows schools in the county to have in-person learning. Nine local schools have permission to reopen through a special waiver, according to Ghilarducci.

The state on Aug. 28 introduced the Blueprint for Safer Economy, which is a four-tier framework that counties are measured for loosening and tightening restrictions on social activities and business operations

San Benito County was placed in the “widespread” sector, or Tier 1 purple status, with the most severe restrictions.  

Bars, breweries and distilleries where no meals are provided are still closed. The same goes for outdoor family entertainment centers, offices and professional sports without live audiences.  

Ghilarducci said in a press release that all open businesses must follow the appropriate industry guidance to create a safer environment for workers and patrons. 

“Sectors of business can progressively open more operations as the county moves up the tier list, following the allowances of the state for each tier, if San Benito County continues to make progress against Covid-19,” said Ghilarducci in the press release.  

Ghilarducci said that the county must spend at least 21 days in any tier before advancing to a less restrictive one. 

“Most notably, counties will have to tighten back up if conditions worsen,” he said.

Ghilarducci said the reopening of sectors of the economy will increase travel and interaction among people. But public health officials urge everyone to continue to follow health and safety guidelines and to avoid large gatherings of any kind. 

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