Contra Costa County moved out of the state's most restrictive coronavirus reopening tier Tuesday, allowing some businesses like gyms and restaurants to resume operating indoors with limited capacities.
Contra Costa was one of the last remaining counties in the greater Bay Area remaining in the in the "Widespread" tier, also frequently denoted as "Tier 1" or the "Purple Tier," due to an elevated rate of new cases.
"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," said county Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano.
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%.
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.
By moving to Tier 2, the "Substantial" or "red tier," Contra Costa County will be allowed to resume indoor operations at retail stores, indoor malls, personal care services like skin care and nail services, museums, places of worship, movie theaters, gyms and restaurants with modified capacities.
In addition, K-12 schools will be allowed to resume indoor classes once the county has been in Tier 2 for at least 14 days.
County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey said schools and school districts will have leeway to resume in-person classes if they choose to do so when the county is eligible on Oct. 13.
"Making progress on the COVID-19 metrics is a positive development," she said. "However, we also know that each community is being affected by this pandemic in different ways."
In addition to Contra Costa County's move out of Tier 1, San Francisco County moved from Tier 2 to the third, or "Moderate," tier after "a close set of conversations" between state and local health officials regarding the county's data, state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said.
The move to Tier 3 will allow San Francisco to increase the capped capacity for businesses that were already open under Tier 2 guidelines, while also allowing offices to resume operating indoors with modifications.
Bars, breweries and distilleries will also be allowed to open outdoors without serving food, which is requirement for counties in the higher tiers.
San Francisco is now the only Bay Area county in Tier 3. Monterey and Sonoma counties are the only areas of the greater Bay Area that remain in Tier 1.