Updates on Reopening the California Economy

November 4, 2020

Ellis Law Corporation


For over two months, California has adopted a new framework for reopening the economy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Governor Gavin Newsom’s plan, counties will be allowed to ease restrictions based on their assignment in one of four color-coded tiers. The system evaluates specific metrics every week that determine which counties can reopen businesses and schools. Counties that remain at the same level for at least three weeks, then meet new criteria for 14-consecutive days are allowed to move to a less restrictive tier, and vice versa.

Number of high-risk Tier 1 counties declining

There are four tiers in Newsom’s ‘blueprint’ for a safer economy, ranging from the most restrictive to the least: Purple (Tier 1), Red (Tier 2), Orange (Tier 3), and Yellow (Tier 4). When the tier-based system was first launched, 38 California counties were in Tier 1, which indicates widespread COVID 19 risk and high transmission rates.

This week, that number has dwindled to just 9 counties, including Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Imperial counties. In Tier 1 counties, the majority of all non-essential businesses remain closed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

There are key metrics — including test positivity rate and the number of daily new cases — used to determine the COVID risk level for each county. Each tier has a different set of rules regarding what establishments can open, their capacity limits, and whether they can operate indoors or strictly outdoors.

Here are the key metrics for each color-coded tier:

  • Tier 1 Purple – Counties with more than an 8% test positivity rate and over 7 daily new cases per 100,000 people
  • Tier 2 Red – Counties with a 5-8% test positivity rate and 4-7 daily new cases
  • Tier 3 Orange — Counties with a 2-4.9% positivity rate and 1-3.9 new cases daily
  • Tier 4 Yellow – Counties with <2% positivity rate and less than 1 daily new case per 100,000 people

As of November 3, Ventura County, Orange County, Santa Barbara County, and San Diego Counties are all categorized as Tier 2, indicating substantial risk of viral transmission.

While Los Angeles County is still in the most restrictive Tier of the reopening matrix, health officials say the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has been decreasing, which is promising.

Free legal consultation in Southern California

California’s “slow and steady” approach to economic reopening during the pandemic will hopefully pave the way to a much safer and brighter future. During these trying times, the personal injury attorneys at Ellis Law offer steadfast representation in a wide range of injury matters. Please call our Los Angeles headquarters or any of our satellite locations to schedule a free, no-obligation case review. There are no upfront fees or costs unless we win compensation in your case.

Additional Resources:

  1. NY Times, An Update on Reopening California https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/09/us/california-virus-tiers-reopening.html
  2. LA Times, Which California counties are reopening? https://www.latimes.com/projects/california-coronavirus-cases-tracking-outbreak/reopening-across-counties/