Hair salons, barbershops opened Monday; other businesses must wait

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Hair salons and barbershops in Yolo County were given the go to resume indoor services on Monday, but other business reopenings are at least a couple of weeks away.

That was the upshot of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement on Friday introducing what he called a new blueprint for safely reopening the state’s economy.

“We’ve learned a lot over the last number of months on how this virus spreads,” Newsom said.

And now, he said, “We want to make adjustments based upon the input we’ve received from county health officers, input we’ve received from experts, our own experience here in California.”

That included giving hair salons and barbershops throughout the state permission to resume indoor services beginning Monday provided the health officer in that county gives the OK.

On Friday, Yolo County’s health officer did exactly that.

“It’s gratifying to see small businesses which have adopted strong protections for their customers be able to re-open,” said Yolo County Supervisor Gary Sandy of Woodland, who chairs the Board of Supervisors.

“Most hair salons and barbershops are individually owned and operated and are a vital part of our local economy,” Sandy said.

Additionally, shopping malls, including indoor malls, destination shopping centers, strip and outlet malls and swap meets, may also reopen in Yolo County beginning Monday.

But any further business reopenings, as well as a return to in-person classroom instruction, will require continued reduction of the spread of COVID-19 locally.

New system
The new framework introduced Friday essentially jettisons the old “monitoring list” and replaces it with a four-tiered, color-coded system.

Tier 1 — or the purple tier — is where counties with widespread coronavirus activity, including all those like Yolo that were on the monitoring list, will begin. In those counties, most non-essential indoor business operations (now with the exception of hair salons and barbershops) will remain closed.

To move down to Tier 2 (the red tier), where virus activity is “substantial” but more businesses can open, a county must go two weeks meeting two metrics: a daily new case rate between 4 to 7 new cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate between 5 and 8 percent.

At the time Newsom made his announcement mid-day last Friday, Yolo County met one of those metrics but not the other. The test positivity rate was 5.9 percent, according to the state, but the daily case rate was 7.3.

Moving into Tier 2 would allow a number of businesses in Yolo County to reopen indoor activities and services, including gyms, libraries, nail salons, movie theaters and places of worship, albeit with restrictions on the number of people allowed in at a time.

Restaurants could also resume indoor dining with a maximum capacity of 25 percent or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

Currently nine California counties are in Tier 2: Lassen, Sierra, Nevada, El Dorado, Calaveras, Lake, Napa, San Francisco and San Diego. Yolo could join them if it maintains those required numbers over the next few weeks.

When the county’s case numbers fall further — to between one and 3.9 daily new cases per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate between 2 and 4.9 percent — Yolo County would move into the orange Tier 3 where additional activities would be permitted.

Those activities would include indoor wineries, outdoor bars and breweries, bowling alleys, cardrooms and offices. Additionally, greater capacity would be allowed for many indoor activities, including restaurants, churches, movie theaters and gyms.

Currently eight counties are in that tier: Del Norte, Siskiyou, Humboldt, Trinity, Shasta, Plumas, Mariposa and Mono.

The lowest tier, the yellow Tier 4, is for counties with minimal virus activity, signified by a daily new case rate below one per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate below 2 percent. Currently three counties in California are in Tier 4: Modoc, Tuolumne and Alpine.

In those counties, indoor activities are generally open though some limits on capacity remain, including 50 percent maximum capacity for places of worship, gyms and fitness centers, restaurants and movie theaters. Notably, bars and breweries may open indoor service in this tier, albeit at 50 percent capacity.

Still to be determined are when amusement parks, sporting events with live audiences and concerts may be allowed. And for all activities in all tiers, face coverings must be worn (except when eating or drinking).

Meanwhile, K-12 schools in counties that are in the purple Tier 1 like Yolo are not permitted to reopen for in-person instruction unless they’ve received a waiver from the county health officer and then only for K-6 in-person classes.

Schools will be eligible for reopening fully for in-person instruction once the county is out of Tier 1 for 14 days.

However, Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s secretary of health and human services, cautioned Friday that counties will likely progress slowly from tier to tier.

“Counties are going to be slow moving through this,” Ghaly said. “If you’re assigned a tier today, you should expect to be in that tier for three weeks.”

The most important things, Newsom added, will be reducing case and positivity rates.

“Those are the two criteria,” he said, “that can move a county forward.. all of us as individuals, doing everything we can to lower the case rate, lower the positivity rate.”

The state will assess every county’s metrics weekly and if a county backtracks on either metric for two consecutive weeks, that county will be moved back into a more restrictive tier.

To learn more about the new tiers and how they impact business reopening, visit https://covid19.ca.gov.

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