Falling back to red Tier 2 places capacity limits on gyms, movie theaters; School operations not impacted; Restrictions effective Tuesday
November 16, 2020
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    Redwood City – San Mateo County falls back to the more restrictive red Tier 2 effective Tuesday on the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan as indoor dining is rolled back and fresh capacity and other limits are placed on businesses and other activities.

    Following an increase in coronavirus cases, the state of California moved San Mateo County back from orange Tier 3 where the risk level from the virus is considered “moderate” to “substantial” under the red Tier 2. The setback affects a wide sector of businesses and adds to the urgency to follow health guidelines and not mix households indoors.

    “While this is a setback, we need to look to a brighter future and to support local businesses and our local restaurants,” said Warren Slocum, president of the Board of Supervisors. “Let’s all take a pledge to patronize our favorite local businesses as best we can. That could be an order we pick up at the curbside or a take-out dinner. Let’s help one another the best we can at this most trying of times.”

    County Manager Mike Callagy said, “What this tell us is that all of us need to redouble our efforts to follow common-sense health and safety guidelines: wear your face covering, wash your hands, maintain social distancing and, above all, do not gather in close proximity to those outside your immediate household.”

    San Mateo County’s shift from the orange to the red tier is due to the increase in the county’s adjusted case rate, which is now 5.7 daily new cases per 100,000 population. That’s more than double the adjusted case rate of 2.2 per 100,000 population from the November 9 tier determination.

    “I know that everyone wants to see family and friends for the holidays, and we’ve heard promising news about vaccines,” Callagy said. “But this is no time to relax and let our guard down. We’re asking everyone to share in the sacrifice so that in what we hope is the near future we can reopen our economy further and enjoy life as normally as possible.”

    At a news conference today, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced San Mateo County and numerous other counties across California have regressed due to rising case counts and other metrics. He cautioned that further restrictions may be implemented – including a curfew -- if case counts do not come down.

    To slow the spread of the virus, all businesses, organizations, child care facilities, schools and other operations that are allowed to open under the state’s COVID-19 blueprint must follow industry-specific health guidelines and adhere to local health orders that mandate face coverings and social distancing. The following is a brief outline of restrictions that take effect Tuesday in San Mateo County:


    Indoor dining is limited to 25 percent of capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Outdoor dining where social distancing is in place, takeout and delivery are still allowed.

    Places of Worship

    Places of worship can open indoors with maximum 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

    Indoor shopping, Gyms, Movie Theaters, Salons

    Indoor shopping malls can operate at 50 percent capacity, movie theaters at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer, indoor gyms at 10 percent capacity and hair salons and barbershops can continue to operate with restrictions.


    The county’s transition back to the red Tier 2 does not impact the operation of schools. Because they have been following the Pandemic Recovery Framework, which involves layers of safety measures, schools in the county that have students back on campus for instruction and other activities are not experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19 and will continue to serve students on campus.

    Given the value to students of in-person learning and engagement, schools should continue to follow their reopening plans and provide students with instruction and other activities on campus.

    Family Entertainment Centers and Playgrounds

    Family entertainment centers can open outdoors with modifications for activities like kart racing, mini golf and batting cages. Outdoor playgrounds can open with modifications.

    Summary of Red Tier 2:

    Restaurants indoors (max 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer)

    All retail indoors (max 50% capacity)

    Shopping centers, swap meets indoors (max 50% capacity, closed common areas)

    Personal care services – hair and nail salons, barbershops (open with modifications)

    Museums, zoos and aquariums (max 25% capacity)

    Places of worship (max 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer)

    Movie theaters in doors (max 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer)

    Gyms and fitness centers indoors (max 10% capacity)

    See the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy for details by business sector and activity.

    Gatherings and Staying Safe During the Holidays

    “With the holidays approaching, everyone is longing to be with their loved ones. But with the numbers we are seeing in the Bay Area and in California, it’s important that we find safe ways to appreciate the holidays and each other.” said Louise Rogers, chief of San Mateo County Health. “What better expression of our gratitude than to keep our loved ones safe!”

    Read guidance at https://www.smchealth.org/health-officer-updates/recommendations-staying-safe-covid-19-during-holidays

    San Mateo County Totals

    San Mateo County Health has recorded 585 positive COVID-19 cases since Monday, November 9. Total cases since the pandemic began stand at 12,565 with 168 deaths.

    Details about cases by age group and race/ethnicity as well as other local health data can be found at https://www.smchealth.org/data-dashboard/county-data-dashboard

    Under the state’s four-tier plan for reopening the economy, San Mateo County moved from the most-restrictive purple Tier 4 to red Tier 3 on September 22 and from Tier 3 to orange Tier 2 on October 28.