7 more California counties move into less restrictive tiers one week from statewide reopening

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGET) — California health officials Tuesday announced seven more counties moved into less restrictive economic tiers.

In the state’s final update to its sweeping color-coded public health policy for counties and businesses, about 63% of the population landed in the least restrictive, yellow tier. 36.5% were in the moderate orange tier, and less than 1% were in the substantial, red tier.

Kern County remained in the orange tier.

“Small business owners out there who have spent the past 14/15 months just in fear and uncertainty are feeling very excited, very encouraged,” said John Kabateck, the California state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

“[There’s] A little bit of apprehension because they’re trying to make sense of all these rules, but I think at the end of the day, this is an exciting time for both small business owners but also the customers, the consumers in our community who will be able to walk through those doors and really start to patronize Main Street again. This is pretty cool,” he told 17 News.

The state blueprint sets capacity and physical distancing limits for various industries based on a county’s case and hospitalization rate.

Within the last five months, as COVID-19 cases have decreased and vaccinations increased, California counties have watched the map turn from deep purple to an orange and yellow hue.

As of Tuesday, the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate is 0.7%, with about 53% of the population fully vaccinated.

After using its “Blueprint for Reopening” for nine-and-a-half months total, the state will get rid of the system June 15.

While the capacity and physical distancing limits will be dropped, questions still remain about what masking and other rules might be in place beyond the blueprint.

Business owners are hoping the state makes it clear soon.

“Our leaders absolutely have to make sure is that these small businesses owners, who are just trying to keep the lights on, understand the laws, they aren’t victims of the laws, and that they can actually comply and there’s sensibility as they start to rebound,” Kabateck said.

State public health officials and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office have not yet reached back to comment.

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