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Three More Counties Get Green Light For Indoor Dining Under Red Tier

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Santa Clara, Napa and San Francisco counties were moved over to the state’s red tier designation Tuesday, allowing indoor dining, movie theaters and gyms at limited capacity. Of the Bay Area’s nine counties, four now remain in the most restrictive purple tier.

Marin and San Mateo counties had already been downgraded.

The red, or “substantial,” tier indicates that adjusted case rates have dropped to a maximum of 7 daily new cases per 100,000 people and test positivity rates are coming in at 8 percent or less. 

Declining virus spread in those areas is welcome news for struggling businesses, namely restaurants that have been restricted to outdoor-service only. Breweries and bars that don’t serve food will have to wait until counties reach the orange tier, an envied position only two California counties have reached. 

As Gov. Gavin Newsom discussed Monday, the red tier assignment could carry a lot of weight on the school reopening front if a compromised legislative deal is passed with a full vote to be held Thursday. 

Under the $6.6 billion proposal, schools, even those in the purple tier, would be eligible for a portion of $2 billion if they reopen in-person classes for transitional kindergarten through second grade by the end of March. Additionally, schools would be required to offer in-person classes for all vulnerable students: English learners, homeless, those without technology access.

All elementary classes and limited middle and high school classes are asked to reopen once counties reach the red tier, which means we could soon see many schools gear up to bring students back to campuses.

The remaining $4.6 billion is slated toward efforts to “reimagine the school year,” as Newsom put it Monday. Reimagining could come in the form of an extended school calendar year and various other measures to help students who have fallen behind during the year of distance learning.

Of course, counties can choose to take advantage of the loosened restrictions or not. Under the state guidance, the newest counties to hit red can open indoor dining, gyms, museums, and some outdoor amusement activities at 25 percent capacity as of Wednesday.

In a press release, San Francisco Mayor London Breed applauded the red tier assignment but urged residents to stay alert, adding:

“This year has been incredibly hard on our residents and small businesses, so every step forward is critical to making sure they can survive this pandemic. To make sure we can keep moving forward, we all need to stay focused and continue to follow the health guidance. We are making good progress managing the virus and ramping up vaccinations, and I’m hopeful for what lies ahead. We have shown that San Francisco can do what needs to be done to protect our city and each other.”

While the state in general is experiencing a relieving case decline, the rate of decrease is facing a plateau in the midst of spreading variants. Avoiding progress reversal and a substantial fourth surge will rely heavily on individual behaviors and increased vaccine distribution in the coming weeks.   


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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.