San Diego County Moved To California's Most-Restrictive Purple Tier | Indoor Operations Must Cease At Restaurants, Gyms, Churches, Theaters & More

November 10, 2020

As speculated over the past week, San Diego County has been moved into California's dreaded purple tier of COVID-19 restrictions, meaning indoor operations will once again be forbidden at restaurants, bars, fitness centers, churches, museums, zoos, aquariums and more.

Due to rising COVID-19 case rates, California officials have moved San Diego County into the state's purple tier of its four-tiered reopening plan, which results in the requirement that indoor operations cease at restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries, fitness centers, churches, museums, zoos and aquariums by Saturday, November 14, at midnight. Additionally, indoor shopping centers will be limited to 25% of capacity, down from the current 50% capacity requirement in the red tier. The state updated its Blueprint for a Safer Economy website at 11:23am Tuesday reflecting San Diego's change from the red tier to purple. As of next week, the state forecasts that half of California counties will be moved into a more restrictive tier. 

There has been a week of record daily coronavirus numbers across California and the United States, with the U.S. now recording over 10 million coronavirus cases to date. Yesterday, California reported 7,212 new daily cases recorded over the past 24 hours in the state with the 14-day average of hospitalizations up to 28.6%. Officials reported last Wednesday that San Diego County had an unadjusted new daily coronavirus case rate of 8.7 per 100,000, with an adjusted case rate being 7.4 per 100,000, above the red tier top limit of 7 per 100,000. 

In August, California Governor Gavin Newsom introduced a uniform framework process consisting of 4 tiers for reopening the economy. The metrics to determine movement within the tiers will be case rates and test positivity percentage per county. The 4 color-coded tiers are as follows: purple is when county risk level is widespread and most non-essential indoor business operations will be forced to remain closed (more than 7 per 100,000 and more than 8% positive tests); red is when county risk level is substantial and some non-essential indoor business operations will stay closed (between 4-7 new cases per 100k population and between 5-8% positive cases); orange is when risk level is moderate and some business operations are open with modifications (between 1-3.9 new cases per 100k population and between 2-4.9% positive cases); yellow is when a county risk level is minimal and most business operations are open with modifications.

According to California's reopening plan, a county has to report data in excess of a more restrictive tier's guidelines for 2 consecutive weeks before it would be moved to the more restrictive tier. Once moved to a higher tier, a county would be required to be in that tier for at least three weeks before it may move up or down a rung. San Diego County had been in the red tier since August 31. San Diego County has had a total of 60,570 positive COVID-19 cases with 908 total deaths related to the pandemic.

In September, speculation mounted that San Diego County would be moved into the state's most restrictive tier of COVID-19 precautions, but the county ultimately stayed in the red tier. At that point, many area bar and restaurant owners came forward saying they would refuse to comply with increased restrictions on indoor business operations. Last month, San Diego County bars and restaurants, led by Cowboy Star in the East Village, joined other California eateries in filing the prerequisite claims for a class-action lawsuit against state and local governments in order to recoup fees paid to them, including liquor licenses, health permits, and state tourism assessments. The claims come as restaurants across the state and country face unprecedented challenges to stay open and maintain cash reserves in the COVID-19 era.

COVID-19 rates have been increasing around California and the United States over the past couple weeks, with the U.S. now recording over 10 million coronavirus cases to date. California has had 7,212 new daily cases recorded over the past 24 hours in the state and the 14-day average of hospitalizations is up to 28.6% as of Monday.

San Diego County's coronavirus rates will be reassessed on Tuesday, December 1, although county officials believe it will be unlikely that rates in the coming weeks will go low enough to get back into the red tier. San Diego officials will be working with the tourism authority, local hotels and Airbnb to ensure they are complying with health orders. 

This is a developing story. We will update this post as we learn more.