San Francisco, 6 counties move to state’s red tier

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NEARLY a year into the coronavirus pandemic, seven counties, including Napa, San Francisco and Santa Clara, moved into the red tier of California’s reopening plan, allowing more businesses and activities to resume.

The counties of El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Napa, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo and Santa Clara met the criteria on Tuesday, March 2 to exit the most restrictive purple tier and enter the red, which indicates the risk of COVID-19 in the counties remain “substantial.”

The red tier allows indoor gatherings — though still strongly discouraged — with modifications and three households maximum.

Retail stores and shopping centers can operate at 50% capacity, up for 25% in the purple tier. Meanwhile, museums, zoos, aquariums and places of worship are allowed to open indoors at 25% capacity. Movie theaters and restaurants can reopen at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

With this week’s announcement, 40 counties remain in the purple tier, 16 in the red and two in the orange (moderate). No counties are in the yellow or minimal tier. Humboldt, Marin, San Mateo, Shasta and Yolo counties moved to the red tier in February.

Meanwhile, bars, breweries and distilleries that do not serve food will remain closed. Wineries and family entertainment centers like kart racing and mini golf will continue to follow outdoor only operations.

“This year has been incredibly hard on our residents and small businesses, so every step forward is critical to making sure they can survive this pandemic. To make sure we can keep moving forward, we all need to stay focused and continue to follow the health guidance. We are making good progress managing the virus and ramping up vaccinations, and I’m hopeful for what lies ahead. We have shown that San Francisco can do what needs to be done to protect our city and each other,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement.

San Francisco is opening remaining activities allowed in the purple tier that had not yet reopened, such as personal services that require mask removal, and groups of up to six people from three households eating together outdoors. Additionally, the city will lift its local nighttime hours limit for all activities except indoor dining, meaning that non-essential businesses and gatherings, such as outdoor dining, can continue past 10 p.m.

With the move into the red tier, middle schools and high schools that had not yet opened can resume opening with a COVID-19 safety plan approved by the San Francisco Health Officer. All other schools can already be open with an approved safety plan. As they have been able to do since September, all schools may provide in-person instruction and services to youth with disabilities, foster children, English learners, children experiencing homelessness, and children from families experiencing housing or food insecurity among others, without Health Officer approval.

California reported 3,352 new cases and 278 fatalities on Wednesday, bringing the total to 3,484,963 infections and 52,775 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The 7-day positivity rate is 2.2% and the 14-day positivity rate is 2.6%.

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