County meets guidance for new tiered system Gov. Newsom announced Friday


Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new, color-coded process Friday for reopening California businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic that moves slower and more gradually than the state’s first attempt earlier this summer.

Counties will move through the system based on their rate of coronavirus cases and the percentage of positive tests. Previously, the state used several other metrics, like hospitalizations and testing capacity, to determine whether counties could reopen.

Newsom said the new system will be simple, slower and steady.

For Kern County, it means hair salons, barbershops and shopping malls can open starting Monday, a county spokeswoman said Friday.

"Today the Governor announced significant changes to the current county monitoring system and introduced a 4 tier framework that counties are assigned to dependent upon case rate and testing positivity," Megan Person said.  "While we are currently reviewing the new guidance and information, it has been determined that hair salons and barbershops and shopping malls can open, effective Monday.  We will continue to review and will provide more detailed information on Monday."

It’s aimed at preventing a surge in infections, like the one between Memorial Day and July 4 as the state began reopening the first time around. That prompted Newsom to shut down bars, restaurants for indoor dining and a slew of other businesses about two months ago.

After being forced to close businesses for a second time, the state is “making sure that we really hold strongly to these buffers in terms of criteria and data, and holding that criteria and data in line for an extended period of time,” Newsom said.

“We’re going to be more stubborn this time and have a mandatory wait time between moves. We didn’t do that last time,” he added.

In simple terms, the rules are about calibrating business activities with how widespread the virus is within counties. The more cases and positive tests, the tighter the restrictions on restaurants, retail shops and other businesses. For example, a county in the most restrictive tier can only open restaurants for outdoor dining. But counties in lower tiers can allow diners inside, though at reduced capacity.

Under the new process, counties will have to meet certain metrics for three weeks before they can reopen certain businesses.

The state will now report virus statistics, such as case numbers, on a weekly basis.

In anticipation of the Democratic governor’s announcement, there was a common refrain from businesses and local governments buffeted by the outbreak: We need clarity.

Counties need to understand clearly “what thresholds to aim for and the public health data that will determine success or failure,” the California State Association of Counties said in a statement.