Progress on COVID-19 front leads to more restoration of business sectors

County of Marin logoMarin County has successfully appealed to the California Department of Public Health[External] (CDPH) to move into Tier 2 in the state’s COVID-19 response framework. Moving from Tier 1, or “widespread” COVID-19 community risk status, to the Tier 2 “substantial” risk category allows more businesses to reopen on Tuesday, September 15.

Marin County and state public health officials worked closely through the past week to ensure complete and accurate data was available to guide the final determination. Watch the CDPH’s announcement video.

The primary changes allowed under the state order as Marin moves into Tier 2, or red status:

  • Retail establishments are allowed to open indoors at 50% capacity
  • Indoor malls are allowed to open at 50% capacity
  • Personal care services are allowed to open indoors (personal care services are defined as esthetics, skin care, cosmetology, electrology, nail services, body art professionals, tattoo parlors, piercing shops, and massage)
  • Museums are allowed to open indoors with 25% capacity
  • Places of worship are allowed to open with 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
  • Movie theaters are allowed to open indoors with 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
  • Gyms are allowed to open indoors with 10% capacity
  • Restaurants are allowed to open indoors with 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer

On August 28, the state introduced its Blueprint for a Safer Economy[External], a four-tier framework by which counties are measured for loosening and tightening restrictions on social activities and business operations. Marin was initially placed in Tier 1, or purple status.

Per state regulations, Tier 2 counties that maintain Tier 2 data for at least two consecutive weeks may reopen schools to classroom-based learning, with modification. For Marin, that could be as early as September 29.

“We’ve made a lot of progress, and this gives us more choices as residents,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer. “But more freedom also brings more risk. Our challenge is to move forward without increasing transmission. We’re at a critical juncture.”

Marin County Public Health graphic[PDF] lays out a clear picture of what the different tiers mean to each business sector. A full list of changes to business sector guidelines will be updated to the Marin Recovers website[External] soon. All open businesses must complete a COVID-19 Site-Specific Protection Plan[External] prior to reopening. Guidance for the plan also is found on the Marin Recovers website.

Sectors of business can progressively open more operations with moves up the tier list if Marin continues to make progress against COVID-19. A county must spend at least 21 days in any tier before advancing to a less restrictive one. Most notably, counties will have to tighten back up if conditions worsen.

Elevated COVID-19 rates in low-income areas of Marin, while improved, remain a challenge. Testing and wider supports must continue in locations where residents are the most vulnerable, and progress in these communities may determine the pace of reopening. One factor for Marin to move Tier 3 status is the state’s new equity adjustment factor. CDPH compares a county’s COVID-19 percent positivity rate across low-income neighborhoods and more affluent neighborhoods. For Marin to move forward, the difference between those two figures must decrease.

Omar Carrera, Director of Canal Alliance, a community-based nonprofit serving the Canal Area of San Rafael, said, “It’s always been our goal to limit the burden of COVID-19 in our community. Now it’s everyone’s goal. If we don’t narrow the disparities, it hurts all of us.”

Follow the latest COVID-19 surveillance figures in Marin County on the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services websiteRegister online to receive a daily COVID-19 update from Marin HHS.