California massively overhauls system for reopening industries


The state's website quietly added hair salons and barbershops to the list of businesses that can open indoors with modifications

SACRAMENTO, California (KSEE/KGPE) — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced a massive overhaul to the system that determines what industries can open and under what modifications amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This comes as Fresno County added 24 more deaths — the first official update from the county since Tuesday. The county also added 663 new cases and 1,165 more recoveries.

The system that defined what can be open was the county monitoring list — on which dozens of counties reside — including Fresno, Tulare, Madera, Merced, and Kings counties.

That is being replaced with a new, 4-tier system that is color-coded and defines a range of severity.

The tiers will be defined by a county’s case rates and test positivity, and the tiers will determine at what capacity indoor operations can run — if any.

Widespread: Most non-essential indoor business operations are closed.

  • New Cases are more than 7 per 100,000 residents daily.
  • Positivity Rates of more than 8%

Substantial: Some non-essential indoor business operations are closed.

  • New Cases are 4-7 per 100,000 residents daily.
  • Positivity Rates of 5-8%

Moderate: Some business operations are open with modifications.

  • New Cases more than 1-3.9 per 100,000 residents daily.
  • Positivity Rates of 2-4.9%

Minimal: Most business operations are open with modifications.

  • New Cases less than 1 per 100,000 residents daily.
  • Positivity Rates of less than 2%

Fresno, Tulare, Kings, Madera, and Merced counties are all in the worst tier of counties in regards to COVID-19 risk — “Widespread” risk.

Mariposa County — which had never been on the state’s monitoring list — is not in the clear anymore. Though the county was listed on the state’s website as having only a 1% positivity rate, given how small the county is, their small number of cases still put them at 3.2 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.

That number puts them at “Moderate” risk level — or orange.

Counties can only move one tier at a time when they meet new criteria, and assessments will be done weekly. There will be a 21-day mandatory wait time between moves.

Counties that move up a tier but then fail to maintain that tier’s criteria will be moved back a tier.

Despite much of the region is listed as being in the “Widespread” tier, the state’s website says that indoor operations at barbershops and hair salons can open with modification starting Monday.

“As of August 31, 2020, counties in the Widespread (purple) tier may open some businesses and activities with modifications, including all retail, shopping centers at maximum 25% capacity, and hair salons and barbershops indoors,” according to the state’s COVID-19 website.

The state’s website says — like Fresno — that Madera, Merced, Tulare, and Kings counties can also open barbershops and hair salons indoors with modifications.

Guidance for schools wasn’t really affected by the changes for our area — which is in the Widespread tier (Fresno, Tulare, Madera, Merced, and Kings counties).

“Schools in the Widespread (purple) tier aren’t permitted to reopen for in-person instruction, unless they receive a waiver from their local health department for TK-6 grades,” according to the California Department of Public Health. “Schools can reopen for in-person instruction once their county has been in the Substantial (red) tier for at least two weeks. Schools must follow these guidelines when they reopen or if they have to close again.”

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