Riverside, Ventura counties move into less-restrictive red tier, allowing for more businesses to reopen

Riverside and Ventura counties on Tuesday emerged from the most restrictive tier in the state's "Blueprint for a Safer Economy'' framework, allowing the reopening of indoor dining, movie theaters and fitness centers at limited capacity, along with increased capacity at retail businesses.

Both counties advanced from the purple to red tier in Gov. Gavin Newsom's reopening criteria as both areas met the threshold of an average daily infection rate of 10 per 100,000 residents.

Riverside County's state-adjusted infection rate dropped to 8.3 per 100,000 residents last week, compared to 11.3 per 100,000 in the first week of March. The downward shift in infection data prompted a lifting of some restrictions on youth and adult sports, as well as resumption of in-person learning in school districts with county and California Department of Public Health waivers.

Under the red tier, indoor operations are permitted to resume at gyms, zoos, museums, movie theaters, places of worship and other facilities at limited capacity. It was not immediately clear how county officials would proceed with the reopenings.

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"We welcome these loosening restrictions on our businesses and urge everyone to practice the necessary safety precautions,'' Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Karen Spiegel said last week.

Officials said vaccination of seniors continues to be a priority, but others who qualify under the CDPH Phase 1 guidelines include hospital workers, first responders, food service workers, teachers and some agricultural workers.

Beginning Tuesday, some residents 18 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions, as well as most people with disabilities, are eligible for vaccinations, according to the CDPH.

"Individuals with conditions are strongly encouraged to seek vaccination with a primary health care provider or system, or in an alternate clinical setting,'' the agency stated. "Check first with your usual health care provider.''

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The portal to make an appointment for vaccination can be accessed via www.rivcoph.org/COVID-19-Vaccine. Anyone who needs assistance may also call the county's 211 help line.

Meanwhile, the governor says he expects about 1.7 million doses of the vaccine each week and they want to make sure to distribute that as quickly as possible. He spoke on the "The View," saying vaccinations are critical for staying ahead of multiple variants.

Newsom was in Northern California pushing for school reopenings. Nine-thousand of California's 11,000 schools are either already open or plan to reopen in the next few weeks. The state says it's working to speed up safe school reopenings, prioritizing vaccinations for K-12 school staff and delivering PPE equipment and safety supplies to all schools.

Newsom said the vaccine supply is growing and there should be wide availability by the end of next month.

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City News Service contributed to this report.
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