Newsom Axes Watch List For New 4-tier Reopening Plan

Governor Newsom

Governor Newsom

California will switch from the "watch list" system to a new color-coded system based on a county's number of cases and the percentage of positive tests.

© Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this July 15, 2020, file photo, Ricardo Rivera, left, has his hair cut by Anthony Acosta while Braunson McDonald has his hair cut by Luis Lopez, right, owner of Orange County Barbers Parlor in Huntington Beach, Calif. California Gov. Gavin Newsom this week ordered that indoor businesses like salons, barber shops, restaurants, movie theaters, museums and others close due to the spread of COVID-19.

When the new system takes effect, 38 of the state's 58 counties, including Los Angeles and almost every other large county, will begin at purple. Only three rural counties will begin in the yellow phase, the least restrictive.

And, as Newsom explained, "We don't put up green because we don't believe that there's a green light that says just go back to the way things were or back to the pre-pandemic mindset". As before, though, counties that want to maintain more strict rules can do so.

Tier 3, moderate transmission: Some businesses can open with modifications. The new rules come almost two months after the governor shut down bars, indoor restaurant dining and other businesses following a surge in cases. Religious services could only be held outdoors.

California has recorded 688,858 cases of COVID-19 and 12,690 death. It will rely on those two metrics to determine a tier: case rates and the percentage of positive tests.

The changes still would need agreement from Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, who could still add more restrictions on top of the state's. She grew up in California and is a graduate of Northwestern University.

- How do we measure the infection rate and extent of community spread? In other words, don't expect an easy solution here where all theaters across the state miraculously reopen at once. Those metrics will still be used to help determine whether the state needs to take a step back. Counties must stay in each tier for at least three weeks before they can move to a less restrictive tier. The state will now report virus statistics, such as case numbers, on a weekly basis.

"We're going to be more stubborn this time and have a mandatory wait time between moves", Newsom said.

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California will update each county's data for the previous week and make corresponding changes to tiers each Tuesday.

Tier 1, widespread transmission: Most nonessential businesses must be closed.

Since the start of the pandemic, many restaurants have been limited to takeout and delivery, and in other cases outdoor dining.

The guidelines came with an acknowledgement from Newsom that a return to normal isn't on the table until a vaccine is available or the virus is otherwise drastically curbed. In the "yellow tier", capacity must be limited to 50%.

The new rules create a four-tier, color-coded system that counties will move through depending on their status related to a county's risk level, new cases, and positive test.

You can look up what businesses are allowed open, and how, in each county, on this page. She said county officials were still studying the new rules.

Nathan Fletcher, a Democratic county supervisor, said he's anxious that the state still is moving too quickly.

For Fresno County and other counties starting in purple Tier 1, it means that many businesses deemed non-essential businesses will remain closed.

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