Outdoor dining and indoor salon operations no longer will be restricted in Santa Barbara County after state officials lifted the regional stay-at-home order on Monday.
The state will resume enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions on a county-by-county basis rather than by regions, with officials citing dropping COVID-19 case rates and a projected decrease in hospitalizations in the coming weeks.
Santa Barbara County now will return to the purple tier, the most restrictive in the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy, along with the majority of the state. According to county health officials, purple tier restrictions will go into effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday, with a more detailed health order to come.
“Now, more businesses will be able to open in Santa Barbara. This is so important for the health of our community. In reference to this virus, however, we have more work to do. Our case rates remain high and our ICU capacity is still very low. Please stay the course,” county Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg said.
The lifting of the state's order is welcomed by personal care businesses and food services, which have experienced whiplash throughout the year with repeated reopening and closures.
After being closed for the past month and a half, LaShell McNally, owner of Shell's Hair Salon in Orcutt, is preparing to reopen her business by the end of the week.
"My phone has definitely been ringing off the hook today," she said. "We had to close down once in March, and then again before August … and then again in December, so we've been shut down three times so far. Hopefully this was the last time."
Originally, the state's order was to remain in effect for any regions with intensive care unit capacity under 15%. As of Monday, capacity in the Southern California region remains at 0%, although officials anticipate it will rise to 33% by Feb. 21.
The sudden change in enforcement from the state has left many with questions, especially business owners who wondered why they had to undergo extra restrictions in the first place.
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. owner Jaime Dietenhofer said the effects of the stay-at-home order on the company's six taprooms, including one in Santa Maria, have been detrimental, and he is unsure what future restrictions will look like.
"We remain skeptical on how much longer the purple tier will last. Our business and countless others throughout the Central Coast have suffered greatly with the shutdown. Regardless, this is a step in the right direction and we are trying to be optimistic despite the obvious challenges," Dietenhofer said.
Churches also will be able to resume outdoor services, and the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will be lifted.
For more information about what is open and closed in the purple tier, visit publichealthsbc.org/purple-tier.
Daily COVID-19 cases
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported 545 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths from the illness over the Jan. 23-24 weekend, followed by 331 new cases and two deaths on Monday.
The total number of confirmed cases in the county is now 27,149, with 2,085 cases still active and contagious, according to county public health data.
Of the seven deaths confirmed since Friday, all were individuals over the age of 70, four of whom died in connection with a COVID-19 outbreak at a congregate living facility. Two were from Lompoc, two from Santa Maria, one from Orcutt, one from Goleta, and one from Santa Barbara, according to county data.
Confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the county now total 267.
As of Monday, 187 individuals are hospitalized for COVID-19, including 50 in the ICU.
In the city of Santa Maria, 552 out of 9,392 total cases remain active and 109 individuals have died.
In the community of Orcutt, 82 out of 1,446 total cases remain active and 17 individuals have died.
In the city of Lompoc, 198 out of 2,788 total cases remain active and 23 individuals have died.
In the Santa Ynez Valley areas of Solvang, Buellton, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez and Ballard, 77 out of 787 total cases remain active and 12 individuals have died.
In the unincorporated North County areas of Sisquoc, Casmalia, Garey, Cuyama, New Cuyama and Guadalupe, 70 out of 1,052 cases remain active and 16 individuals have died.
The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department reported 324 new COVID-19 cases over the Jan 23-24 weekend, followed by 96 new cases and seven deaths from the illness on Monday.
Confirmed cases now total 16,957, with 1,908 cases still active and contagious, according to county public health data.
All seven individuals whose deaths were reported Monday were between the ages of 60 and 100, according to county public health spokeswoman Michelle Shoresman.
Confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the county now total 158.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.