San Diego County Removed From California COVID-19 Monitoring List & City Parks Opened For New Businesses

August 18, 2020

After six straight days of county public health officials reporting cases fewer than 100 positive COVID-19 tests per 100,000 people, California Governor Newsom officially announced today that San Diego County has been removed from the state's coronavirus monitoring list.

California state officials had previously stated that if the rate of positive cases stays below 100 per 100,000 people for three consecutive days, a county would officially be removed from that list. Should the County continue to hold its case rate below 100 in the days ahead, the 14-day wait period would end August 31 and all schools could hypothetically reopen for in-person teaching after that. Approximately 48 elementary schools have so far filed waivers with San Diego County to return to school early. No other businesses would be allowed to modify their operations until the state gives further guidance. The specifics of reopening certain businesses for indoor operations remain uncertain. San Diego is one of only 17 California counties currently not on the state's monitoring list.

San Diego County was placed on California's monitoring list on July 3, and businesses were given several days to prepare for closures. Indoor operations were required to cease at restaurants, bars, movie theaters, zoos, museums, card rooms, wineries, tasting rooms and family entertainment centers. During the required closure, many businesses have began taking their services outdoors, including restaurants taking over sections of streets and sidewalks.

The county will be placed back on the list should it be flagged for exceeding any one of six different metrics for three consecutive days. Those metrics are the case rate, the percentage of positive tests, the average number of tests a county is able to perform daily, changes in the number of hospitalized patients and the percentage of ventilators and intensive care beds available.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer also announced today that gyms and places of worship would be able to use San Diego's parks to conduct operations outside beginning Monday morning. Per Faulconer's executive order, San Diego's more than 300 parks, 26 miles of shoreline and 57 recreation centers could be used for gyms, fitness classes and worship services starting Monday. Social distancing and face coverings are still encouraged.

"There is no city better than San Diego to take advantage of the fact that COVID-19 has a harder time spreading outdoors," said Mayor Faulconer. "Using parks as part of our pandemic relief response will help the mental health and physical health of thousands of San Diegans."

The directive defers park permit fees for 60 days. Faulconer will bring an ordinance to the council once it is back in session in September that would make the waiving of fees permanent. It was Faulconer's third executive order allowing for some businesses to operate outside. Previously, he had allowed for some retail and restaurants, and subsequently for gyms, barbershops, hair salons and massage businesses to expand to sidewalks and private parking lots.

Businesses must display their San Diego County safe reopening plan, hold insurance naming San Diego as an additional insured, and have a city business tax certificate prior to August 1, 2020. New permits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for each park depending on the local demand and total space available.