As COVID cases rise, region takes step back on road to re-opening
The entire tri-county region is going back into the most restrictive tier of California’s pandemic reopening system, as a rise in cases across the state forced Gov. Gavin Newsom to take emergency action.
Under the state’s rules, all three counties would have re-entered the purple tier on Nov. 24, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, if case numbers did not improve. However, Newsom announced Nov. 16 that 28 counties were being moved back into the most restrictive tier on Nov. 17, instead of waiting an additional week. Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties were all on that list.
“We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said in a press conference. “California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet—faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer. The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes. That is why we are pulling an emergency brake in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Now is the time to do all we can—government at all levels and Californians across the state—to flatten the curve again as we have done before.”
Because the tri-county region is sliding back to purple, many types of businesses will have to close again, including indoor movie theaters, gyms and fitness centers and food courts at malls and destination centers. Places of worship will also be closed for indoor operations. Additionally, many businesses that will be able to stay open will be placed under more restrictive rules, such as retail and shopping centers, which will have a maximum capacity of 25%. Restaurants can also only seat patrons outdoors.
The state also released guidelines for private gatherings. In counties in the purple tier, gatherings should only have a maximum of three households, and they should only happen outside. In the other three tiers, indoor gatherings are still strongly discouraged, but are allowed with precautions, and with a maximum of three households.