Marin County restaurants, gyms, cinemas can reopen indoors as coronavirus cases decline

Marin County will once again be seeing red, effective Wednesday.

County officials on Tuesday announced the state will advance Marin from the purple tier (“widespread” infections) to the red tier (“substantial”) of pandemic-inspired restrictions. Marin is the only North Bay county moving out of the most-restrictive tier, according to the state.

Napa County is on track to move to the red tier on March 10, according to the Napa Valley Register, citing the county’s public health officer, Dr. Karen Relucio, in her Tuesday update to the board of supervisors.

Sonoma County will remain in the purple tier for the foreseeable future partly because there’s been a decline in coronavirus testing since December, which has contributed to higher test-positivity rates, according to The Press Democrat.

San Mateo and Marin were among five counties statewide that moved from the purple tier Tuesday. Santa Clara and San Francisco are the two next Bay Area counties expected to advance with Napa into the red tier, according to the Bay Area News Group.

As Marin moves to the red tier, retail establishments and indoor malls will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity, though food courts must stay closed. Restaurants and movie theaters can operate indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer, and gyms and fitness studios may reopen indoors at 10% capacity.

Marin County is advancing because of declining COVID-19 infection rates and a low percentage of positive tests among residents of low-income communities, according to county officials.

“We’ve focused on our hardest-hit communities and it seems to be paying off,” Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis said in a news release. “It’s especially encouraging to see this progress as we move toward vaccinating essential workers. Adding the protection of the vaccine will help seal this progress for the whole community.”

Marin County’s businesses have been on a roller coaster of reopening and closing several times. Newsom allowed Marin restaurants to partly reopen inside in June but reversed that in early July.

The governor then implemented the four-tiered Blueprint for a Safer Economy on Aug. 31.

The county started in the purple tier, then on Sept. 15 made its first entry into the red tier before advancing on Oct. 27 to the orange tier — allowing the loosest restrictions yet for the county’s business community.

But all of that changed a couple of weeks later as infection rates in the state started spiking again and the holiday season was getting underway.

On Nov. 16, Marin was moved back to red status, then purple on Dec. 8 as Newsom announced the implementation of the statewide regional stay-at-home order, based on the availability of ICU beds. Marin County subsequently joined six other jurisdictions and decided to proactively shut down altogether. The regional order superseded the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

After the regional order was lifted on Jan. 26, Marin County defaulted back to purple, where it has stayed — until Wednesday.

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