Covid-19, novel coronavirus 2019
Novel Coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) (CDC Image)

MONTEREY COUNTY — Residents in Monterey County can now look forward to fewer restrictions as the region moves from the most severe risk, Purple Tier, and into the moderate risk, Red Tier, of California’s Covid-19 reopening plan.

The announcement was made Tuesday after the county met the state’s reopening metrics for two weeks in a row.

Leaving behind the Purple Tier, known as the widespread risk tier, and shifting to the Red Tier, known as the substantial risk tier, means some nonessential indoor businesses can reopen, effective Wednesday.

For example, retail stores in Red Tier counties can operate at 50% capacity, up from 25% capacity while under the Purple Tier.

Some facilities that were only allowed to have outdoor services while in the Purple Tier, such as gyms and restaurants, can now open indoor service at 10% and 25% capacity, respectively, under the Red Tier.

“We as a county continue to see success in our local efforts to reduce the spread of Covid-19,” said Dr. Edward Moreno, the county’s health officer.

County officials continue to watch for opportunities to shift to a less restrictive tier, which would be Orange Tier, also known as moderate risk.

“In regards to the state blueprint metrics, our countywide positivity rate continues to decrease and our health equity positivity rate continues to decrease,” Moreno said.

Under the Red Tier, the following activities can resume in Monterey County beginning Wednesday:

  • Restaurant indoor dining capacity is limited to 25% or 100 people, whichever is less;
  • Retail store indoor capacity is limited to 50% and grocery stores can operate at full capacity;
  • Shopping center indoor capacity is limited to 50%, with reduced capacity food courts;
  • Gym and fitness center indoor capacity is limited to 10%;
  • Movie theater indoor capacity is limited to 25% or 100 people, whichever is less;
  • Zoo, museum, and aquarium indoor capacity is limited to 25%;
  • Higher education indoor lectures and student gatherings are limited to 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is less; and
  • Schools may reopen grades TK through 12 for in-person instruction after they have publicly posted their Covid-19 Safety Plans for at least five days.

“Monterey County residents have shown continued commitment to wearing masks, social distancing, and staying outdoors as much as possible when interacting with people outside their household. These actions make a difference,” Moreno said. “This is no time to let our guard down.”

Moreno reminded residents to continue to wear face coverings, avoid gatherings, remain home when possible, wash hands frequently and get vaccinated when eligible.

“It’s important for everyone in Monterey County to continue to make efforts to decrease the transmission of Covid-19 to prevent cases, prevent hospitalizations and prevent deaths,” Moreno said.

In addition to case rate numbers and equity positivity rates, he said the state also has begun reviewing statewide vaccination data and has developed a vaccine equity metric, as a way to determine if tier thresholds can be changed for the counties.

One set of data being evaluated at the state level is the disparity in vaccine administration.

“People living in places with the least healthy community conditions have received 18% of vaccinations,” Moreno said. “In comparison, people living in places with the most healthy community conditions have received 31% of vaccinations statewide. If vaccinations were more equitable, we would expect each quartile to receive about 25% of vaccinations.”

In Monterey County, there are 55 locations offering Covid-19 vaccine to eligible residents as of last week.

For anyone seeking assistance with the vaccine registration process, Moreno said they can call 211 for information or go to

Ryan Cronk contributed to this article.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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