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San Diego County Advancing To Red Tier; Indoor Dining, Movie Theaters Opening

 March 16, 2021 at 11:19 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 It was announced moments ago that San Diego County has now transitioned from the highly restrictive purple tier to the more lenient red tier guidelines while a move to the red tier doesn't mean a total ease on restrictions. It will allow for some key changes that are expected to greatly help San Diego's ailing businesses. Joining me is KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman, who is covering the ongoing County tier developments. Matt. Welcome. So it is now official that San Diego County has moved from the purple tier to the red tier, which is a less restrictive. Do you have any sense of when businesses will be able to open underneath those guidelines? Speaker 2: 00:39 Yeah. You know, just anecdotally talking to some businesses, Jane, a lot of them plan to reopen on Wednesday. Uh, I do know that last time this happened, we made a tier change. The restrictions didn't go into effect or weren't lifted until the following Friday. So that would be this Friday. We will get an update from County officials tomorrow. We will have all those details. Speaker 1: 00:58 What criteria has been met in order for the County to transition from purple to red tier? Speaker 2: 01:05 Yeah. So we're making this move a little bit earlier than expected. You know, we had to meet certain criteria relating to cases and testing. Uh, one of the, one of those was the adjusted case rate. That was a number we were looking at for a really, really long time. Um, it had to be below a certain level for two weeks in a row, but the state of California reached a goal to vaccinate vulnerable residents in certain zip codes, including some in San Diego. They reached that 2 million dose Mark, which lowered the bar. Speaker 1: 01:28 What are some of the key ways in which restrictions would ease under red tier guidelines? Speaker 2: 01:34 Right. So we're talking about indoor operations at a lot of places that that'll be easy. So, you know, when was the last time you went to a movie J you know, movie theaters will be able to reopen indoors at a limited capacity? Uh, we were just in point Loma, we just talked to a gym owner point MoMA sports club. Uh, there were Indigo, they have a big outdoor setup. They'll be able to do 10% capacity inside, and then they're hoping they'll be able to scale up. And then restaurants, you know, there were for awhile, the ban on outdoor dining. Uh, we know that that's been lifted. And so now restaurants will be able to operate indoors, but at a limited capacity. So a lot of restaurants really excited about these new developments, Speaker 1: 02:07 Speaking of which, you know, the shift in guidelines seems like it must come as a relief to businesses that have been waiting for months to resume indoor operations, particularly like the restaurant you mentioned. Speaker 2: 02:19 Yeah. It's really been a roller coaster ride Jane. And, you know, there's been a lot of different funding opportunities, but business to say that it's really been confusing because you have state programs, you have County programs, and then you have, you know, federal government programs. So we know that another round of relief is coming from the federal government. So businesses are also looking forward to trying to get some of that. Speaker 1: 02:37 I understand that, uh, amusement parks and live entertainment will also be affected. Speaker 2: 02:44 Yeah. So, you know, amusement parks, the governor and his team did announce a couple of weeks ago, once counties are in the red tier, um, after April 1st that those can begin reopening, but not, not just the amusement parks to at a limited capacity, but also we're talking about Padres baseball. You know, we know that UC San Diego health, they're going to be closing down that vaccination site there this weekend, uh, because we know that the Padres want that parking lot back because the governor, his team have told them that they could operate echo park at 20% capacity after April 1st, should we stay in this red tier? Speaker 1: 03:14 It's important to note that even though the shift represents a significant easing of County guidelines, that we are still at a very restrictive and delicate stage in keeping COVID cases low at the County level, any plans for how they plan to, to go along with that. Speaker 2: 03:31 So we know we were in the most restrictive purple reopenings here. You know, we're going to the red tier, which is the second least restrictive, but we know that there's orange and yellow, which opened up a lot more activity. So officials are hoping that, that we can keep moving up our way through the tears. Also Jade worth noting the red tier also is big news for schools. That means that a lot of schools can reopen, basically when we were in the red tier before we're talking to, you know, pre November of last year, if schools did not reopen in the red tier, then they basically couldn't do it. Um, so a lot of schools are really looking at this as an opportunity to reopen SDA unified as that goal of doing it by April 12th. Speaker 1: 04:05 And we've often seen spikes in case numbers in the period following an ease and restrictions. Do health officials anticipate any such correlation in the coming weeks? Speaker 2: 04:15 Yeah, we saw it in the summer, you know, with some of the holidays. And then we saw when we had the Christmas and when we had Thanksgiving, um, you know, it's really unclear, you know, we know that vaccinations are going into San Diego arms, you know, more than a quarter of residents over the age of 16 have gotten at least one dose. So, um, you know, it's really unclear if we might see a spike in cases, Speaker 1: 04:35 The change to red tier will affect more than just businesses. Correct. Speaker 2: 04:40 Right. Yeah. Like I said, it will be affecting things like schools, uh, you know, for a long time, schools have been really, really trying to reopen. And there's been a lot of, you know, angers on anger on both sides, um, where parents are very upset. Uh, but some officials think that that some of that anger has been sort of misguided because they can't reopen even if they want it to, because of those tier restrictions. Speaker 1: 04:59 I've been speaking with KPBS general assignment reporter, Matt Hoffman, who is covering the counties tier guideline changes today. Matt, thank you so much. Speaker 2: 05:09 Thanks Jay.

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San Diego County will move back into the less restrictive red tier of the state's COVID-19 reopening blueprint Wednesday, allowing limited indoor operations of restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and more.
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