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COVID-19 Reopening: More Indoor Business Allowed In Contra Costa; In-Person Instruction At Schools Could Start Oct. 13

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY (CBS SF) -- More indoor businesses, including movie theaters, gyms and restaurant dining rooms, as well as school will soon be able to reopen as Contra Costa County on Tuesday moved into the red tier of the state's COVID-19 monitoring guidelines.

Changes to the updated section of the state COVID-19 monitoring website late Tuesday morning reflected that the county had moved from purple or widespread tier to the less restrictive red or substantial tier.

To move out of the widespread tier, which replaced the state's coronavirus monitoring list, a county must for two consecutive weeks have fewer than seven new cases per day per 100,000 residents and a test positivity rate below 8 percent.

Counties that move a tier must then stay in that tier for at least three weeks before they can move to the next, less restrictive tier.

Sonoma County is currently the only Bay Area county still in the purple tier as of Tuesday.

According to a press release issued by Contra Costa County health officials, moving into the red tier means the following sectors can reopen with modifications:

  • Places of worship, restaurants, movie theaters and museums can  operate indoors at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is less
  • Gyms can reopen indoors at 10 percent capacity
  • All personal care services, including massage, can move indoors
  • Indoor shopping malls can operate at 50 percent maximum occupancy (instead of 25 percent). Food courts can also open following the state's guidelines for restaurants.
  • Indoor retail stores can now operate at 50 percent capacity (instead of 25 percent)

"The credit really belongs to the residents of Contra Costa, who have adapted to the new normal and modified their lifestyles to reduce the spread of COVID in the county," Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said in the press release.

Additionally, the county announced that elementary and secondary schools can reopen for in-person instruction on Oct. 13 if the county remains the red tier for two more weeks. Currently, elementary schools can apply for a waiver from the health officer to reopen.

"Making progress on the COVID-19 metrics is a positive development. However, we also know that each community is being affected by this pandemic in different ways," said Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey in a release issued by the county's Office of Education. "Schools and school districts have to make the decision on how and when to return students and teachers to physical classrooms based on the situation in their local communities. Even then, there is still a lot of work to do to ensure that the physical spaces are safe and the proper procedures in place."

District 2 Contra Costa County Supervisor Candace Andersen posted about the news late Tuesday morning.

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