Tuesdays have gained special importance for many California employers during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s when the California Department of Health (CDPH) announces, via a noon press conference on its YouTube channel, counties’ movement – forward or backward – through the state’s four-tiered Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Local ordinances permitting, businesses in counties that move to a less restrictive tier are able to reopen or expand operations, while companies in counties that regress to a more restrictive tier may have to restrict operations – or shutter completely, at least temporarily.
At its October 20 press conference, CDPH announced that San Francisco County became the state’s first large, urban county to move to the least restrictive (yellow) tier. While Butte and Napa Counties also moved to less restrictive tiers (from red to orange), Riverside and Shasta Counties moved back to purple – the most restrictive tier. Expect to see indoor operations at movie theaters, places of worship, museums, zoos, aquariums, gyms, and restaurants having to close in Riverside and Shasta Counties subject to resuming after three weeks only if the counties have satisfied the criteria for advancement to the less restrictive red tier and if local health ordinances permit reopening.
Other more populous counties’ tier designations did not change in the October 20 announcement. Many of these counties – Los Angeles (purple), Orange (red), Sacramento (red), San Bernardino (purple), and San Diego (red) – remain in the more restrictive tiers.
Given the potentially profound impacts of changes to a county’s tier status, employers should stay abreast of CDPH’s weekly announcements and monitor changes to local public health ordinances. To the extent they have not done so already, employers in counties with more restrictive tier designations should consider planning for the resumption of activities that accompany their counties’ eventual movement to the more permissive tiers – however long that may take.