Santa Barbara County to Enter Red Tier Wednesday
By edhat staff
Santa Barbara County has reached the state's less restrictive red-tier allowing more businesses to open indoors starting Wednesday.
The announcement was made during Tuesday morning's Board of Supervisors meeting with Public Health Department (PHD) Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso giving an excited "yay!"
The state surpassed the 2 million vaccination threshold in the Healthy Places Index (HPI) Quartile 1, essentially the communities who have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 virus. This prompted the restructuring of the "Blueprint for a Safer Economy" metrics, expanding the color-coded tiers allowing more counties to progress.
The county is currently reporting an adjusted case rate of 7.7 per 100,000 population, a 3.3% testing positivity rate, and a 5.1 health equity rating that allows the county to operate in the red tier. The county will need to stay in this red tier for another two weeks before being eligible for the orange tier.
The changes will take effect at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 17. Here are the biggest updates:
Outdoor and indoor gatherings are limited to persons from no more than three households. Indoor gatherings strongly discouraged but are allowed with face coverings and at least six-feet distance from people from other households.
May operate indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
Retail, Grocery & Shopping
Retail stores, shopping malls and swap meets may operate with a maximum of 50% capacity. Common areas will remain closed. Food courts are open at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
Secondary schools with safety plans in place will be permitted to open for in person education.
Worship services, weddings, funerals & protests
Worship services, cultural ceremonies, weddings and funerals are permitted indoors with modifications at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Face coverings are required, even when singing, chanting or protesting. Receptions, parties or celebrations of life are not permitted.
Fitness Centers, Gyms & Dance Studios
Fitness centers, gyms and dance studios, including those in hotels and lodging rentals, may operate indoors with modifications at 10% capacity. Rock climbing walls are allowed. Spa facilities, saunas, steam rooms, indoor pools remain closed.
Museums, Zoos & Aquariums
Museums, zoos and aquariums may open indoors at a 25% capacity.
Movie theatres may open indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
Open with indoor capacity limited to 25%-50%
Cardrooms and Satellite Wagering
Outdoor only with modifications
Wineries, Breweries, Distilleries
Outdoor only with modifications, per Reservation, 90-minute time limit, seating only, limited hours until 8 PM
Allow remote only except for critical infrastructure sectors where remote working is not possible.
Personal Care Services
Personal care services may open indoors with modifications.
Hotels and Lodging
Open with modifications, with indoor pools, hot tubs, saunas, and steam rooms remaining closed.
Starting April 1, may open with modifications: Max 15%, small groups of maximal 10 persons or 3 household groups with no intergroup mixing, indoor capacity max 15% with time restrictions, no indoor dining, weekly worker testing program, in-state visitors only, online ticket purchase only
Outdoor Live Events with assigned Seats and controlled mixing (Sports and live performances)
As of April 1, max 20% includes suites with 25% occupancy per suite and suites no more than 3 households, weekly worker testing program, in-state visitors only, advanced reservations only, primarily in-seat concession (no concourse sales)
Family Entertainment Centers
Mini golf, Kart Racing, Batting Cages: outdoor only with modifications.
For a complete look at what the State allows in the Red Tier, check out the State COVID-19 reopening framework, the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
Santa Barbara County Numbers
Dr. Do-Reynoso confirmed hospitalizations, intensive care unit stays, and active cases continued to decrease the first 15 days of March. Total deaths, however, increased by 4%. The county has now sustained 429 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The adjusted case rate decreased by 21% and the numbers prove the winter surge in cases is now over, said Dr. Do-Reynoso. While she acknowledged this is "indeed good news," the community must stay vigilant as new variants of the virus are circling and Spring Break approaches.
Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg confirmed the county is still experiencing widespread community transmission. He urged residents to stay diligent to avoid what's currently happening in Europe where a third wave of COVID-19 is now growing exponentially.
Regarding vaccine production, Dr. Ansorg stated he feels quite optimistic as the federal government is ramping up COVID-19 vaccine production and distribution. The county's infrastructure is in place to easily double or maybe triple vaccine distribution in the county, he said.
For more information about local public health orders, guidance, and vaccine distribution in Santa Barbara County, please visit: https://publichealthsbc.org/.