California gives go-ahead to Solano County to reopen more businesses from coronavirus restrictions

Solano County on Wednesday will join two of its North Bay neighbors when it moves from the most-restrictive purple tier of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, to the red tier that allows for more businesses to reopen, state officials announced Tuesday.

Solano moved into the red tier a week after Napa County qualified and two weeks after Marin County — the first of the North Bay’s six counties to have moved back into the less-restrictive status. Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties remain in the purple tier.

The other Bay Area county transitioning to the red tier from purple Wednesday will be Alameda, state officials said.

As of Wednesday, Solano County’s retail establishments and indoor malls will be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity, though food courts must remain closed. Restaurants and movie theaters can resume indoor operations at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer, and gyms and fitness studios can operate indoors at 10% capacity.

On Friday, California said that outdoor sports venues can start reopening as of April 1, and theme parks in red-tier counties could reopen at 15% capacity at that time. Only California residents are allowed to buy tickets. The park attendance cap rises to 25% in the orange tier and 35% in the yellow. Indoor rides are allowed because they are short and allow for proper spacing, according to the Associated Press.

“We are pleased by the state’s announcement today,” Six Flags Entertainment Corp. said in an statement Tuesday. “Six Flags has extensive safety procedures in place at parks across the country and we have been safely hosting guests at the park since July of 2020 for The Marine World Experience. Our team members are eager to welcome guests back to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom with a full complement of our world-class coasters, rides and animals in a safe, outdoor environment.”

The Arlington, Texas-based company said an official reopening date for the Vallejo theme park will be posted on the website and social channels “in the near future.”

The Marine World Experience is a weekday walk-through tour of park features besides the rides, namely the walruses, according to a Feb. 19 corporate announcement. And the park launched a “Renaissance Days” special-event series with period garb and foods.

“In April, the park will help guests celebrate Spring Break with all-new activities and fun photo opportunities,” said the news release last month.

Solano County Health Officer Dr. Bela T. Matyas said on Tuesdaythe declining number of coronavirus cases is “great news” for local businesses.

“However, it is still critical for everyone to continue to practice health and safety measures. Let us all continue to do our part to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19 infection — wear a mask, practice physical distancing, limit gatherings with others outside of the household, and get vaccinated when the vaccine is available for you,” Matyas wrote on the county website.

Solano County advances to the red tier with a test positivity rate of 2.4%, lower than the 5% to 7% range needed to advance. Its adjusted new case rate is 6.7, landing within the 4 to 7 requirement. And the county’s health-equity test positivity rate is 3.6%, lower than the 5.3% to 8% stipulation for residents in disadvantaged communities.

Meanwhile, Sonoma County was on the bubble for moving into the red tier this week but ultimately was held back.

Despite a sharp decline in coronavirus cases and related hospitalizations locally the past few weeks, the county’s new daily case of 9 rate per 100,000 residents — a key measure of transmission of the virus — and its overall share of positive COVID-19 tests, remains slightly above the state’s threshold to advance out of the purple tier, according to The Press Democrat.

Sonoma County’s other two metrics qualified for moving to the red tier: It test positivity rate is 3.1% and its health-equity test positivity rate is 5.3%.

Looking ahead, Marin County is poised to advance on March 23 to the orange tier, allowing for even further easing of restrictions.

The county, which advanced from the purple to red tier on February 24, had an adjusted case rate on March 8 of 4.2 per 100,000 residents per day, Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s public health officer, told the board of supervisors on March 9, as reported by the Marin Independent Journal.

Marin County’s adjusted case rate must drop below 4 per 100,000 residents per day to move to the orange tier. It could also advance if its health-equity test positivity rate drops below 2.1%. As of March 8, the rate was 2.9%, the outlet reported.

Once the state has administered 2 million vaccine doses in disadvantaged communities, the state Department of Public Health will raise the threshold between the purple and red tiers from an average of 7 daily cases per 100,000 residents up to 10 per 100,000, according to the Sacramento Bee. Those guidelines will then be retroactive, adding a week of credit for any county that didn’t advance due to having a case rate between 7 and 10 per 100,000 residents.

This story has been updated with a new statement from Six Flags Entertainment Corp. about the Vallejo theme park, and forward-looking information about Marin County.

Jeff Quackenbush of the Business Journal contributed to this report.

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