OC Moves to Substantial (Red) Tier on State’s New Blueprint

Updated September 8, 2020

California has a blueprint for reducing COVID-19 in the state with revised criteria for loosening and tightening restrictions on activities.

Governor Newsom recently announced a tiered system and revamped website that will be the new blueprint for safely reopening the state’s economy. Now categorized into four color-coded tiers, they range in decreased severity from Widespread (purple) to Substantial (red), Moderate (orange), and Minimal (yellow); the Widespread level replaces the former California monitoring list.

On September 8, Orange County moved from the Widespread (purple) tier to the Substantial (red) tier. Indoor operations for certain sectors may resume.

Restaurants, places of worship, movie theaters and museums will be allowed to maintain up to 25% occupancy or 100 people — whichever is less. Gyms may operate with 10% occupancy. Hair salons, barbershops and nail salons may operate indoors with normal capacity. Retail businesses are to be restricted to 50% occupancy.

Wineries may operate outdoors only. Bars, breweries, brewpubs, and distilleries where no food is provided must stay closed.

All indoor businesses must still abide by social distancing- and face- covering mandates, as well as having a detailed safe reopening plan on file with the county.

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If Orange County’s pandemic metrics continue to fall and stay that way, the county could be promoted to the Orange Tier by the state, which would allow restaurants to operate at 50 percent of capacity or with 200 guests, whichever amount is smaller. For all subsequent assessments, counties will need to remain on a tier for a minimum of three weeks and must meet benchmarks for two consecutive weeks before they will be able to progress to the next tier. Counties can only progress one tier at a time, even if they may qualify for a more advanced tier.

Every county in California is assigned to a tier based on its test positivity and adjusted case rate. At a minimum, counties must remain in a tier for at least 3 weeks before moving forward. Data is reviewed weekly and tiers are updated on Tuesdays. To move forward, a county must meet the next tier’s criteria for two consecutive weeks. If a county’s metrics worsen for two consecutive weeks, it will be assigned a more restrictive tier. Public health officials are constantly monitoring data and can step in if necessary.

Orange County is currently in the Substantial category. Some non-essential indoor business operations are closed.

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