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San Diego County makes the move to less restrictive Red tier

With new data reported on Tuesday, San Diego County will make the move to less restrictions for activities and businesses surrounding COVID-19 safety.

SAN DIEGO — Data released from the California Department of Public Health Tuesday confirmed that San Diego County will make the move from the Purple tier to the less restrictive Red tier in the state's four-tiered Blueprint for a Safer Economy

Last Wednesday, County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher stated that the high probability and likelihood of the changes in data would move San Diego into the lower tier by Wednesday. 

On Tuesday after the data was released, Fletcher released a statement stating: “This is another strong step forward in our responsible recovery from COVID-19. While it has been a long year particularly for our gyms and restaurants, the vaccine has given us hope that we can not only save lives, but get our way of life back.”

“We've been planning for a long time now, so we're very excited. There's been a lot of cleaning, a lot of scrubbing and a lot of disinfecting, " said Randy Smerik, owner of Solare Ristorante and Lounge for eight years in Liberty Station with his two sons.

After an entire year exactly of the pandemic lockdown, Solare, which is Italian for “sunshine,” is encouraged to have its tight-knit employees back to work.

“I'm able to bring back more of the team and able to get back more to normal than before. We just want to make sure all the tables are correctly distanced and that we're following all of the safety protocols,” Smerik said of his authentic Italian cuisine restaurant that was added to the Michelin Guide in 2019.

San Diego County's COVID-19 adjusted positive case rate fell Tuesday to 6.8 cases per 100,000 residents, a score that allows the county to drop to the new tier. 

Pumped to workout indoors,  Robert Thomas, 24 Hour Fitness General Manager in Carlsbad said the gym has a 6-foot distance between all of its cardio equipment and has new turf on the ground and sanitizing stations.

“We also have team members walking the floors cleaning regularly throughout the day. Every mask protocol, indoor operations, you have to wear your mask above your mouth and nose at all times,” Thomas said.

In the red tier, gyms can open indoors at 10% capacity. The Carlsbad gym already has its members already working outside under two tents in the parking lot as well as virtually via its app. Thomas said 24 Hour Fitness will allow 70 members indoors and 200 outdoors.

"24 Hour Fitness is extremely excited to be able to reopen for all of our members here in the San Diego market to provide every avenue possible for our member base to achieve their fitness goals,” Thomas said.

Last Friday, Governor Newsom hinted that the change was coming when he said that he "expected" San Diego along with 12 other counties to move into the Red tier Tuesday, March 16, based on current data and projections.

Below is a breakdown of what can open when a county is in the red tier.


  • Hair salons: open indoors with modifications
  • Retail: open indoors at 50% capacity
  • Malls: open indoors at 50% capacity and limited food courts
  • Nail salons: open indoors with modifications
  • Electrolysis: open indoors with modifications
  • Personal care services (body waxing, etc.): open indoor with modifications
  • Tattooing and piercing: open indoors with modifications
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums: open indoors at 25% capacity
  • Places of worship: open indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
  • Movie theaters: open indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
  • Hotels: open with modifications, plus fitness centers can open at 10% capacity
  • Gyms: open indoors at 10% capacity
  • Restaurants: open indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
  • Wineries and Breweries: effective March 13 in purple and red tiers: Outdoor only with modifications including reservations, 90-minute time limit, seating/tables only, and limited hours (service for on-site consumption closed by 8 p.m.)
  • Bars: closed
  • Family entertainment centers: outdoor only, like mini golf, batting cages and go-kart racing
  • Cardrooms: outdoor only
  • Non-essential offices: remote work only
  • Professional sports: outdoor only at 20% capacity starting April 1
  • Schools: can reopen for in-person instruction after five days out of the purple tier
  • Theme parks: can reopen at 15% capacity starting April 1
  • Live performances: outdoor only at 20% capacity starting April 1


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