Santa Barbara County took a step forward in California’s reopening process when the state released its updated color-coded tier assignments on Tuesday.
New tier rules, with fewer COVID-19 health restrictions, will kick in as soon as Wednesday morning now that the county is moving into the orange tier of the state COVID-19 reopening framework, the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
A local public health officer order with the latest guidelines will go into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to the county.
Public Health officials said the county will align with the state allowances for orange tier rules. The county’s new health officer order will further ease restrictions and allow more indoor activities, in accordance with the rules and the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework.
“We have made significant progress in lowering our local case rate,” Dr. Henning Ansorg, Santa Barbara County’s public health officer, said in a statement. “Every member of our community plays an important role in helping us achieve and continue to enjoy the benefits of loosening restrictions. We must continue to be mindful of safety practices, including wearing masks, physically distancing, washing hands and getting vaccinated as soon as possible.”
The COVID-19 case rate and testing positivity rate for the county determine how the region will move through tiers.
The advance from the red tier to orange mostly means that more people are allowed indoors, with capacity restrictions, for businesses such as restaurants, retail stores and gyms.
In the orange tier, restaurants can open indoors at 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer.
Gym and fitness studios can open indoors at 25% capacity, with modifications. Indoor pools are allowed to open at hotels and gyms and other facilities, but not indoor saunas or hot tubs, according to the state. Capacity may increase to 37.5% if guests show proof of negative COVID-19 tests or being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
For offices reopening, moving into the orange tier starts the switch to indoor workplaces with modifications. Guidance issued by public health officials still encourage telework.
Retail operations can open at 100% capacity with COVID-19 health modifications, and museums, zoos and aquariums can increase indoor capacity to 50%. According to the county, capacity may increase to 75% if all guests at museums, zoos and aquariums show proof of negative tests or full vaccination.
Wineries, breweries and distilleries, along with card rooms and satellite wagering sites, can increase capacity to 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer, and capacity may increase to 37.5% if all guests show proof of negative COVID-19 tests or full vaccination.
Family entertainment centers will be allowed to operate indoors and outdoors with modifications at 25% capacity, and 50% capacity if all guests have negative COVID-19 tests or full vaccination. Food and beverage service is allowed in designated areas only, and alcohol will be outdoor service only, according to the guidance.
Movie theaters can operate indoors with capacity at 50% or 200 people, whichever is fewer.
Bars with no food service can open outdoors with modifications, according to the guidelines.
Amusement parks can open at 25% capacity, and indoor spaces are limited to 25% capacity to in-state visitors only.
Places of worship have no capacity limits because of legal challenges to public health orders. However, they’re recommended by public health officials to operate at 50% capacity in the orange tier, with COVID-19-related modifications.
Last week, state guidance for private events and gatherings went into effect across California.
In the orange tier, attendance is limited to a maximum of 100 people at private venues and events held outdoors. Three hundred people will be allowed if attendees show proof of negative COVID-19 testing or full vaccination.
Attendance for private venues and events held indoor will be limited to a maximum of 150 people, and all attendees must show they have negative COVID-19 tests or full vaccination, according to the county.
Public health officials strongly discourage indoor gatherings amid the ongoing pandemic, according to the state.
Venues with indoor live events and performances can have audiences and must follow several modifications, including capacity limitations, a weekly worker COVID-19 testing program, as well as all tickets will be digital and advanced purchase only, plus pre-designated eating areas to accommodate physical distance, among other protocols.
The state Department of Public Health released guidance for indoor live events and entertainment with audiences. Click here for more information.
Venues hosting outdoor seated live performances must follow capacity restrictions set by the state and have in-state spectators only. In addition, new state guidance includes “a worker COVID-19 testing program for weekly optional testing of all regular workers who may encounter other workers, support staff or performers,” advanced ticket reservations only and indoor concessions and concourse sales must be closed, except for designated seated dining areas that operate at no greater than 25% of capacity, according to the county.
State health officials issued guidance for outdoor live events and entertainment. Click here for more information.
As of Tuesday, more than 4,700 businesses countywide submitted the self-certification forms to reopen amid the pandemic, with most of them in city areas.
The state’s reopening guidelines have adjusted throughout the pandemic. Click here for the latest industry guidelines issued by the state.