San Diego County is expected to move out of the most restrictive of the state's COVID tiers effective on Wednesday.
California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly says that with the state meeting its goal of vaccinating 2 million people in the communities hardest hit by COVID-19, the guidelines in the Blueprint for a Safe Economy are being revised. San Diego County is expected to move to the Red Tier to open up businesses and other places for more indoor activities as of March 17th. The change in tiers will allow indoor operations to resume, at limited capacity and with modifications, at restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, churches and other establishments.
San Diego is among a dozen counties that are expected to be moving from the most restrictive Purple Tier to the less restrictive Red Tier, which now requires a case rate of four to 10 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. San Diego County’s state-calculated, adjusted case rate is currently 8.8 cases per 100,000 residents. Dr. Ghaly said that when the state administers 4 million doses in the vaccine equity quartile, the tier assignments will be revised once again, making it easier for counties to move down into the Orange or Yellow tiers that have fewer restrictions.
What Red Tier Means
Restaurants: A shift to the red tier means eateries will be able to offer indoor dining again at 25% capacity or 100 people – whichever is fewer.
Separately,breweries, wineries and distilleriesin both the red and purple tiers got the go-ahead to serve alcohol outdoors without having to serve food, though bars that do not serve food must remain closed. The establishments will be required to limit customers to 90-minute sessions with reservations only and must stop serving by 8 p.m.
Gyms: Gyms, which have been closed for indoor operations since last summer, will be able to operate at 10% capacity indoors.
Museums, Zoos and Aquariums: While the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego have been able to operate outdoors, some indoor activities will be allowed to resume under the red tier with a maximum capacity of 25%. Amusements, like the roller coasters at SeaWorld San Diego will remain closed.
Movie Theaters: San Diegans can see movies again, indoors, as long as theaters limit capacity to 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
Shopping Centers: Retail businesses in shopping centers can up their capacity from 25% to 50% in the red tier. Food courts can reopen with 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer, just like restaurants. Other common areas must remain closed.
Schools: K-12 school can reopen for in-person instruction without seeking a waiver but it will be up to local school districts to determine when and how reopening will occur.
Higher education institutions can also allow for indoor lectures and student gatherings up to 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Some courses conducted in certain indoor settings, like labs and studio arts, may be open at regular capacity but the state recommends virtual activities wherever possible.
Live Events: There are also some reopening modifications that will take effect statewide on April 1. Since San Diego will be in the red tier by then, outdoor live events like sports games and live music will be able to have guests up to 20% capacity as opposed to less than 100 people in the purple tier.
Amusement Parks: Also starting April 1, amusement parks in counties in the red tier will be able to have guests up to 15% capacity, even at their indoor facilities, though indoor dining should stay closed.
(Photo Getty Images)