With the end in sight for the color-coded reopening system that California has used for much of the pandemic to set restrictions, two more local counties will find out Tuesday whether they are advancing to the state’s coveted yellow tier.
Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties are both eligible to move this week into the stage that signifies “minimal” coronavirus spread and comes with the loosest restrictions in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy tiered framework. Updated county assignments are typically announced around noon each Tuesday.
The blueprint, which Gov. Gavin Newsom first rolled out last August, is set to be retired on June 15, when state leaders say they will eliminate most pandemic-related restrictions on business capacity and public gatherings, as well as end the indoor mask mandate for vaccinated people. The tiered system is based on local coronavirus case rates and the percentage of tests for the deadly virus that come back positive in each county.
If their counties advance, the move would clear the way for higher capacity limits at many indoor businesses in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, and would give the green light for indoor bars that don’t serve food to reopen their doors.
The two counties are eligible to advance because they met the criteria last week, and will move forward if they keep their case rates in that range for a second consecutive week. Data posted by each county shows new case rates roughly flat in Santa Clara and down slightly in Santa Cruz; each has spent more than a month in the orange, or “moderate,” tier.
Three more counties statewide — Orange, the third-largest in California by population, along with Amador and Inyo in the eastern part of the state — are also eligible to advance to the yellow tier this week. Tehama and Yuba counties are hoping to advance into the orange tier from the red stage, which indicates “substantial” coronavirus spread.
Alameda and Contra Costa counties are staying put in their current orange tier for at least the next week.
Check back for updates.