The surge in COVID-19 across the Bay Area is showing signs of slowing, leading the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to lift the regional stay-home order for the Bay Area and statewide, effective immediately.
CDPH conducts forecasts to predict increased regional intensive care unit (ICU) bed availability across the state. New projections from the show the Bay Area’s ICU capacity above 15% four weeks from now, meeting the criteria to exit the regional stay-home order. All 11 counties in the Bay Area, including Marin, will move into the purple Tier 1 within the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
On December 3, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced tighter restrictions for regions where less than 15% of ICU beds were available. On December 16, the Bay Area region’s available ICU capacity slipped below the 15% threshold, triggering the state-mandated order for 11 Bay Area counties on December 17.
“Everyone has been making sacrifices to bring this surge under control, and it’s paying off,” said Dr Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer. “As we move back into the purple tier, it’s critical to remember the virus is still very active in our community. We could easily backslide if we let our guard down.”
Willis said face covering, physical distancing, frequent testing, and avoiding indoor gatherings are the best ways to prevent another surge.
By switching to Tier 1, the following businesses and activities can proceed in Marin County:
Allowed to operate indoors:
Hair salons and barbershops
Personal services (nail salons, estheticians, massage studios, tattoo parlors, piercing shops)
Limited services (carwashes, dry cleaners, electricians, handypersons/general contractors, heating and air conditioning services, landscapers, laundromats, pet groomers, plumbing services, janitorial/cleaning services)
Hotels, motels and short-term lodging
Retail stores and malls, at 25% capacity
Libraries, at 25% capacity
Allowed to operate outdoors:
Restaurants (outdoor dining)
Places of worship
Gyms and fitness/dance/yoga studios
Drive-in movie theaters
Family entertainment centers
Campgrounds and playgrounds
Youth and adult recreational athletics (outdoor physical conditioning and practice permitted with six feet of physical distancing from others. No scrimmages, games or tournaments)
Small private gatherings
- Masks and physical distancing required
- No more than three separate households attend (including the host’s)
- Gatherings should be two hours or less
- Those with symptoms must not attend
- Those at high risk of severe illness strongly encouraged not to attend
- Singing, shouting, chanting, cheering, or exercising strongly discouraged
A full list of changes to business sector guidelines will be updated to the Marin Recovers website soon. All open businesses must have completed a COVID-19 Site-Specific Protection Plan. Guidance for the plan also is found on the Marin Recovers website.
With 7% of Marin residents vaccinated and very limited weekly supplies, health officials note that the vaccine will play a limited role in preventing any surges soon.
“For the next two months, our everyday behaviors, more than the vaccine, will help flatten the curve,” said Benita McLarin, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “It’s exciting to know we’ll all be protected eventually, through vaccination, but we’re not there yet.”
The end of the stay-home order and Marin’s shift to Tier 1 status does not affect schools. Campuses that had reopened to site-based classroom learning prior to December 10 (when Marin County last shifted from Tier 2 to Tier 1 within the Blueprint framework) were allowed to continue operating in-person, though some choose to move back to a virtual format. Schools that have not yet returned to a site-based format during the 2020-21 school year will be eligible to reopen once Marin achieves and retains Tier 2 status for five days.
Although the regional-stay home order has lifted, the State of California’s travel advisory strongly discouraging non-essential travel, including to other states and countries. All persons arriving in or returning to their home county should self-quarantine for 10 days.
The Blueprint for a Safer Economy is a four-tier framework by which counties are measured for loosening and tightening restrictions on social activities and business operations. Sectors of business can progressively open more operations with moves up the list toward the final stage, Tier 4. A county must spend at least 21 days in any tier before advancing to a less restrictive one. As Marin experienced, counties have to tighten back up if conditions worsen. Follow Marin’s Blueprint-related data on Marin Public Health’s blueprint dashboard.