Last Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled the new state coronavirus tier system, a sort of color-coded how-to for counties intent on a return to normal in a pandemic world.
Businesses that were affected had the weekend to update their safe reopening plans, and -- voila! -- San Diego departed everybody's least-favorite color tier -- Purple, or widespread, for the much more desirable Red Tier (substantial spread), which, of course, is not as cool as the Orange Tier (moderate spread) or the highly vaunted Yellow Tier, where community spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus is minimal.
Just three counties in the state hold the coveted yellow (Alpine, Modoc, Tuolumne counties) tag; for its part, San Diego's riding the SoCal reopening wave as the sole red county south of Mariposa.
So how does the red-tier hit different? All of our hard-fought reopenings remain in place -- you can still go to the beach and the park, for instance, but some liberties have been seriously, though not completely, sweetened for business owners.
Need some ink? Tattoo shops, along with piercing places, are fully reopened. Nail shops? Check.
Still, we're a long way from a green light for reopening. Here's a complete list of Red Tier revisions (we think -- let us know here if we're missing anything!):
- K-12 schools
- Restaurants, dine-in: 25% capacity indoor or 100 people, whichever is lower. They still need to close at 10 p.m. Outdoor operations with social distancing
- Places of worship: 25% indoor capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower. Outdoor services with social distancing
- Movie theaters: 25% indoor capacity or 100 people per screen, whichever is lower
- Museums: 25% capacity
- Gyms and fitness centers: 10% indoor capacity. Outdoor operations with social distancing
- Dance studios: 10% indoor capacity. Outdoor operations with social distancing
- Yoga studios: 10% indoor capacity. Outdoor operations with social distancing
- Zoos and aquariums: 25% indoor capacity. Outdoor operations with social distancing
- Hair salons and barbershops
- Nail salons
- Body waxing
- Tattoo parlors
- Skin care and cosmetology
- Hotels and lodging
- Family entertainment centers (go-kart racing, mini golf, batting cages): Can open outdoors only with modifications. No indoor operations allowed
- Malls, shopping center: 50% indoor capacity, closed common areas, reduced capacity food courts
And, other than social distancing, it's still business as usual at the following:
- Bike, surfboard rentals
Now, just like schools and school districts, it's completely up to business owners what they want to do in their Red Tier reality. For instance, a nail shop in Mission Hills that had laboriously converted to outdoor service was still working outside on Monday, in addition to welcoming customers inside. Why? Some customers prefer to mani-pedi in the great out-of-doors, where the ventilation is better and there are even some UV rays to battle the beast.
Counties have to sustain certain COVID accomplishments -- metrics established by the state -- for a period of 21 days and hit the metrics of the next lowest tier for two weeks before they can progress. That said, two weeks of bad numbers in a row and counties will get bounced back to the next tier below. if it seems like a vast, scary game of Frogger, you're not along. That said, after Sept. 8, counties in the Purple Tier only have to hit good numbers for seven consecutive days to move onto Red.
So what awaits a county on the Orange and Yellow Tiers? Mostly more of the same, with fewer restrictions. For example, restaurants can operate at 50% of (max of 200, whichever is lower) capacity in Orange, and in yellow, there is no capacity limit to the 50% occupancy.
Some local critics of the new Newsom plan -- including one San Diego County supervisor and local venue operators -- are saying it does not go far enough, but many locals will welcome the relaxation on restrictions, while others are waiting to see if the cases spike again, as they did in July after a brief stab at reopening. So what's missing? Mostly bars -- one's that DON'T sell food or have a food truck parked outside -- and live-music venues and sports, college or professionals.
However, you CAN watch the Padres on TV -- they really might have a shot this year. Did you hear about all the trades?