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Santa Barbara County enters orange tier; restrictions on businesses loosened up
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Santa Barbara County enters orange tier; restrictions on businesses loosened up

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Santa Barbara County achieved orange tier status this week, and restrictions on businesses, organizations and individuals will loosen up at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The county’s change in status on the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy was announced Tuesday morning by Public Health Department Director Van Do-Reynoso at the Board of Supervisors meeting.

“We are in the orange tier,” Do-Reynoso told supervisors. “We have far more exceeded the [required] three weeks in red tier.”

The shift to the second-least-restrictive reopening tier will allow some businesses to begin indoor operations and increase the number of people they can serve, and people can again attend public gatherings and private events.

Restaurants indoor service rises to 50% of capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer, and wineries, breweries and distilleries can open indoors at 25% of capacity or 100 people, whichever is less, with no requirement to serve food or take advance reservations and no limit on hours or length of time people can stay.

Bars can now reopen outdoor operations; family entertainment centers can add indoor operations at 25% capacity or, if all guests are tested or all are fully vaccinated, at 50% capacity; and cardrooms and satellite wagering can add indoor operations at 25% capacity.

Although teleworking is still encouraged, offices can reopen with modifications.

Allowed amusement park and fair attendance jumped up to 25% indoors and out with time restrictions indoors, limited to in-state visitors and with other modifications and workers tested weekly.

At outdoor live events with assigned seating, attendance is now 33% of capacity, including suites at 25% capacity, with indoor concessions at designated locations and similar restrictions as amusement parks and fairs, although capacity can be boosted to 67% if all guests are tested or fully vaccinated.

Outdoor public gatherings can now be attended by 50 people, and indoor gatherings, while discouraged, can be attended by 25% of a venue’s capacity or 25 people, whichever is less.

Outdoor private events can be attended by 100 people or, if all can show proof of testing or full vaccination, up to 300 people, while 150 people are allowed at indoor private events if all are tested or show proof of full vaccination.

Second District Supervisor Gregg Hart asked what the distinction is between public gatherings and private events.

Do-Reynoso said gatherings are generally social, informal with no guest list required, vaccination or testing requirements and are usually held in a home or backyard, while private events are usually meetings, receptions or conferences with a guest list, vaccination and testing requirements and are held in a hotel or conference center.

“OK, so there’s still a lot of gray area here,” Hart responded.

Board Chairman and 4th District Supervisor Bob Nelson asked if there are protocols for determining proof of vaccination, and Do-Reynoso said verifying a person’s status would be left up to an event organizer and the facility operator.

The move to the orange tier also lifted capacity restrictions on retail businesses and raised the maximum attendance at places of worship, museums, zoos, aquariums and movie theaters to 50% of capacity or, in the case of theaters, 200 people, whichever is less.

Gyms and fitness centers, including those located in hotels, can now serve 25% of their capacity and can open their indoor pools, although water parks and water slides must remain closed.

Do-Reynoso also updated the board on the department’s efforts to increase the number of COVID-19 vaccination doses delivered, the county’s declining case rates and the drop in the number of people being tested for the virus.

She said the county had distributed 7,280 first doses and 16,870 second doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this week.

To date, 52% of county residents have received first doses of a vaccine, and 29% of the population is fully vaccinated, she said.

Fully vaccinated people can spend time with each other without masks or physical distancing and with people who are not fully vaccinated from a single household who are at low risk for serious COVID-19 disease, Do-Reynoso said.

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