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Santa Barbara, Ventura counties move up to state’s less-restrictive Red Tier, allowing more businesses to reopen

SOUTH COAST, Calif. - After several grueling months, California announced Tuesday that both Santa Barbara and Ventura counties can finally move up to the less-restrictive Red Tier of the statewide reopening plan.

California's Blueprint for a Safer Economy updated Tuesday to show both counties had remained within the threshold for the Red Tier for three weeks, allowing for the official move. The new rules will take effect on Wednesday.

The Red Tier, which signifies substantial spread of the coronavirus within a county, will allow more businesses to reopen outdoors and indoors than the more-restrictive Purple Tier. The state said these restrictions are in place to prevent a community from reopening too fast and causing a spike in COVID-19 cases.

The categories the state looks at to determine which tier a county is qualified for include:

Adjusted case rate
Daily new cases (per 100k)
7-day average of daily COVID-19 cases per 100K with 7-day lag, adjusted for number of tests performed
Positivity rate7-day average of all COVID-19 tests performed that are positive
Health equity metric (Positivity rate for HPI quartile 1)7-day average of all COVID-19 tests performed that are positive for the lowest quartile, quartile 1, according to the Healthy Places Index
Vaccines administeredNumber of vaccines doses administered statewide to people in the Health Places Index lowest quartile, quartile 1 (Vaccine Equity Metric)

To qualify for Red, both Santa Barbara and Ventura counties displayed at most 10 new new cases of COVID each day per 100,000 residents, an 8% positivity rate for testing throughout the county and a less than 8.1% positivity tests for the health equity quartile.

Moving forward, the Red Tier will allow local businesses to either open or reopen in limited capacities as follows:

  • Retail may increase indoor capacity from 25% to 50%.
  • Shopping centers, malls, destination centers and swap meets can increase indoor capacity from 25% to 50% and operate reduced-capacity food courts.
  • Personal care services are allowed to open indoors.
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums are allowed to open indoors with maximum capacity of 25%.
  • Places of worship are allowed to open indoors with maximum capacity of 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
  • Movie theaters are allowed to open indoors with maximum capacity of 25% of 100 people, whichever is fewer.
  • Hotels and lodging are allowed to open fitness centers at 10% maximum capacity.
  • Gyms and fitness centers can open indoors at 10% maximum capacity.
  • Restaurants can serve guests indoors with maximum capacity of 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
  • Schools can reopen in person after two weeks of the county being in the red tier, according to state guidelines.

Businesses in both counties have already been preparing for this next step in reopening after local public health departments announced they were within the threshold to move tiers earlier this year.

San Luis Obispo County was the first of the three to break into the Red Tier earlier this month.

For more information on what is and isn't allowed in each California county as well as their current reopening status, visit the state's website covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy.

For a breakdown of daily COVID-19 cases in Santa Barbara County, click here.

For a breakdown of daily COVID-19 cases in Ventura County, click here.

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Jessica Brest

Jessica Brest is a digital journalist and assignment editor for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Jessica, click here.

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