By Tony Nuñez
The state revealed a new, more “stringent” four-tiered reopening system that will allow counties to begin opening their economies depending on their Covid-19 case and test positivity rates.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Aug. 28 announced the new system–effective Aug. 31– that replaces the monitoring list, and removes many of the old benchmarks counties had to meet in order to unlock swaths of their economy. Now, counties can begin to reopen if their news cases per 100,000 residents per day and positivity rates start to decline.
Thirty-eight counties, including San Benito, were in the “widespread” risk level Friday. Each county will be reassessed every Tuesday starting on Sept. 8, Newsom said.
The new system means that barbershops and hair salons can reopen starting Monday, and so too can shopping centers at 25 percent capacity.
Schools in the “widespread” tier aren’t permitted to reopen for in-person instruction, unless they receive a waiver from their local health department for grades transitional kindergarten to sixth.
Schools can reopen for in-person instruction once their county has been in the “substantial” tier for at least two weeks. Schools must follow a set of guidelines when they reopen or if they have to close again.
A county must spend at least 21 days in one tier before it can move to a less restrictive one, and it must meet the metrics for the less restrictive tier for 14 consecutive days.
Some counties such as Santa Cruz could soon move from the “widespread” tier to “substantial” because they had already spent 14 days off the old monitoring list, Newsom said.
That move would allow several businesses deemed “non-essential” by state health orders to reopen their indoor operations with modifications. Restaurants and places of worship, for example, can offer indoor services at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer, in that tier.
For county-to-county, industry-specific restrictions click here.
Counties that do not meet their current tier’s metrics will be moved back into more restrictive tiers.
If a case and test positivity rate fall into two different tiers, the county will be assigned to the more restrictive tier.
Newsom also said the state has an “emergency break” set up in the case that counties see spikes in hospitalizations or ICU visits.