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Posted on: November 16, 2020

Marin Joins Statewide Cautionary COVID-19 Step

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Worsening statistics prompt regression from orange Tier 3 to red Tier 2

San Rafael, CA – Marin County is one of 40 California counties tightening restrictions per State of California mandates in response to a surge of COVID-19 cases across the state and region. 

Governor Gavin Newsom announced[External] November 16 that Marin was moved from orange to red, to use common virus status terminology. The step back comes just three days after the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notified local businesses and agencies about preemptive restrictions to stem the virus’ spread locally. But Monday, the California Department of Public Health[External] (CDPH) officially moved Marin from orange-colored Tier 3 (“moderate risk”) to the more restrictive red Tier 2 (“substantial risk”) on its Blueprint for a Safer Economy[External].

Twenty-eight counties on Monday were moved into the purple Tier 1, the most restrictive status on the Blueprint scale, because of widespread virus spread. Marin is now one of 11 counties out of 58 in red Tier 2 status; 41 are in purple Tier 1.

“This is concerning because surges are happening just as the weather is getting cooler, and before the real holiday season even starts,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer. “We can anticipate more travel, more gatherings, more flu. If we don’t get in front of this now, I’m concerned about our hospital capacity to manage cases come December.”

The primary restrictions of moving back to Tier 2 are:

  • Retail establishments and indoor malls are allowed at 50% capacity
  • Office workspaces are allowed for essential workers; nonessential workers should work remote only
  • Restaurants are allowed outdoor service only
  • Bars and breweries are not allowed
  • Wineries are allowed outdoor service only
  • Personal care services are allowed indoors
  • Museums are allowed at 25% capacity
  • Places of worship are allowed at 25% capacity or 100 people (whichever is fewer)
  • Libraries are allowed at 50% capacity
  • Movie theaters are allowed at 25% capacity or 100 people (whichever is fewer)
  • Cardrooms are allowed outdoor service only
  • Other family entertainment centers are allowed outdoor service only
  • Gyms and fitness centers are allowed at 10% capacity 
  • Indoor pools are not allowed

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 under Tier 1 restrictions. Guidance for the plan also is found on the Marin Recovers website.

The change to Tier 2 does not affect Marin’s school reopening process. Local schools started re-opening on September 8 while the county was in the purple tier, and now 70% of Marin schools are open to some form of classroom-based learning. So far, there have been no cases of COVID-19 infection that occurred within school settings.

“It’s important to note that most counties across the state that did not reopen schools are seeing even faster rises in cases, and in people of all ages,” said Dr. Lisa Santora, Marin’s Deputy Public Health Officer. “We’ve done a lot of work together to make sure that schools can reopen safely, and it’s paying off.”

On August 28, the state introduced its Blueprint for a Safer Economy, 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, moved to Tier 2 on September 15 as its COVID-19 case figures improved, and graduated to Tier 3 on October 27.

Sectors of business can progressively open more operations with moves up the list toward the final stage, Tier 4. A county must spend at least 21 days in any tier before advancing to a less restrictive one. As Marin experienced, counties have to tighten back up if conditions worsen.

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

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