SLO County slows down COVID-19, could reopen more business sectors next week

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Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the date range during which SLO County met the state's metrics as of Sept. 18.

Indoor spaces at restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, and places of worship could reopen again as early as next week due to declining levels of COVID-19 in San Luis Obispo County.

Between Aug. 30 and Sept. 5—and for the first time since July—SLO County met the state’s metrics to progress out of its most restrictive set of rules and closures imposed to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.



PROGRESS SLO County could move into the next tier of the state’s reopening plan next week if the current COVID-19 numbers hold. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • PROGRESS SLO County could move into the next tier of the state’s reopening plan next week if the current COVID-19 numbers hold.

Over the past week, SLO County averaged 6.3 cases per 100,000 residents and reported a 2.9 percent positivity rate. If those numbers hold through Sept. 22, the county will move into Tier 2 (the “red tier”) of the state’s four-tiered Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

Counties must meet those benchmarks for two consecutive weeks to move forward. They can also move backwards if they don’t meet them for two weeks.

“We are optimistic that SLO County will move forward into the red tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy next week,” SLO County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said in a Sept. 18 press release, “and that more businesses will be able to open indoor operations. To get there, we need every person in our community to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19. We must stay vigilant.”

Under the red tier rules, stores and shopping centers can grow their capacity to 50 percent (from 25 percent) and sectors that were barred from operating at all indoors may reopen with restrictions. Those sectors include restaurants, personal care services, museums, zoos, and aquariums, places of worship, movie theaters, and gyms.

Schools may also reopen for in-person instruction if the county can stay in the red tier for at least two weeks, according to the state blueprint.

While SLO is poised to make progress on the blueprint, Santa Barbara County isn’t. As of Sept. 15, Santa Barbara County averaged 9.1 cases per 100,000 residents—two cases higher than the needed threshold. ∆
—Peter Johnson

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