Fullerton Observer: Orange County Moves to Less Restrictive Red Tier

The county of Orange announced on Friday, March 12 that effective March 14 OC would move into the Red or “Substantial” Tier of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy (covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy). The four-tiered Blueprint was adopted last year to determine how much of their respective economies and public activities individual counties could open, based on several health metrics. Just weeks ago, nearly all of the State’s counties were mired deep in the Purple or “Widespread” Tier, the most restrictive, limiting gatherings to outdoors only, and only small ones at that, and forbidding movie theaters, museums, zoos, aquariums, and gyms from opening indoors at all. Moving to the Red Tier allows those entities to open indoors, with modifications of a maximum of 25% capacity. Retail businesses may expand capacity to 50%.

Private indoor gatherings are still strongly discouraged but allowed with modifications and a maximum of 3 households at one time. Indoor gatherings are a major source of coronavirus transmission. Ill-advised gatherings during the holiday season last year helped to cause COVID-19 cases and deaths to skyrocket for weeks, resulting in a statewide stay-at-home order that was lifted only in late January. California’s mask-wearing mandate is still in effect, unchanged by counties ascending from tier to tier in the framework.

The adoption of a state bill authored and championed by Assembly member Sharon Quirk-Silva will allow amusement parks to open in the Red Tier instead of waiting until counties move up into the Orange, or “Moderate Tier,” but not until April 1. Amusement parks may operate at a maximum of 15% capacity for groups of 10 people or less or no more than 3 household groups. No indoor dining will be allowed at the parks. Tickets must be purchased online and only in-state visitors may enter the parks. Workers must be tested each week. Disneyland, located in Quirk-Silva’s Assembly district, has already begun calling back furloughed workers, although no reopening date has yet been announced.”