Gov. Gavin Newsom promoted San Mateo and Alameda counties to the next level in the state’s phased coronavirus recovery plan Tuesday, allowing businesses in those counties to reopen more services.
Starting Tuesday, San Mateo County will allow some businesses that had previously been outdoors only — including restaurants and gyms — to bring business inside. Restaurants, movie theaters and places of worship now can operate indoors at 25% capacity (or 100 people — whichever is fewer). Gyms and fitness centers can operate indoors at 10% capacity.
“What this means is that you – the residents of San Mateo County – have made huge sacrifices to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” County Manager Mike Callagy wrote in a news release. “We have precious few moments to celebrate in these unprecedented times. But this is something we should all be happy about now that so many of our businesses can reopen and so many of you can get back to work.”
Even though it got the green light from the governor’s office, Alameda County did not ease its shelter-in-place rules Tuesday. County officials intend to monitor their COVID metrics for the next two weeks to ensure the numbers remain stable. If they do, the county will release new reopening guidelines.
“As with all other re-openings, it will be important for Alameda County to take a measured and phased approach to avoid dramatic increases in disease transmission and re-closures,” county officials wrote in a news release. “As we did when the Blueprint for a Safer Economy was first announced, we are carefully examining the potential impact of activities that may be permitted to reopen or expand in the Red Tier.”
San Mateo and Alameda counties join Santa Clara, Marin, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Napa counties in tier two, which is color-coded red and indicates a “substantial” risk of COVID-19. All but two Bay Area counties are in tier two. Contra Costa and Sonoma counties remained in the purple tier one, where the risk of COVID-19 is considered “widespread.”
“We’re happy to see the fruits of labor in this strategy. Counties do move as we see stable, steady reductions in transmission,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday.
Tier two, or the red tier, mans a county has a new case rate of between four and seven per 100,000, and a testing positivity rate between 5 and 8%. Counties in the red tier can open restaurants indoors with 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
The state bases tier movements on data that’s two-weeks old.
Ghaly said he expects more counties to progress on the tier system next Tuesday.
“We want to make sure as we move forward in the face of flu season coming, winter, colder weather, maybe some rain, that we really do bring down our transmission, our test positivity, the number of cases that counties are looking into,” he said.
Check back for updates on this developing story.