Newsom announces new blueprint for gradual reopen

Gov. Gavin Newsom. Courtesy of the Office of the Governor

California counties will now use a new, color-coded tiered blueprint for reopening their economies that is simpler and more gradual than the COVID-19 watch list framework, state officials revealed Friday. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a live broadcast that the new process is “is not an announcement that we’re reopening the economy” but rather “we’re just talking about as we move forward, how we could be more mindful of your health and safety so we don’t have to continue to go back and forth.” 

A county will be assigned a color based on its case rate and positivity rate, ultimately determining how businesses can operate: 

  • Widespread (purple): Those with more than 7 daily new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 individuals, or more than 8% of tests coming back positive. Most non-essential indoor business operations are closed.
  • Substantial (red): 4-7 daily new cases per 100,000 people, or 5-8%. Some non-essential indoor business operations are closed. 
  • Moderate (orange): 1-3.9 daily new cases per 100,000 individuals, or 2-4.9%. Some business operations are open with modifications. 
  • Minimal (yellow): Less than 1 daily new case per 100,000 people, or less than 2%. Most business operations are open with modifications. 

As an example, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly explained how the framework would work for museums and zoos. They would only be able to hold outdoor operations in a county classified under the “purple” category, while those in “red” could open indoor services with a 25% capacity, 50% for those in “orange” and full indoor services with masks and physical distancing requirements under the “yellow” category. 

What can reopen in L.A. County?

Under the new framework, hair salons and barbershops can reopen for indoor services across the state, including those in counties under the “widespread” category, starting Monday. Personal services such as tattoo parlors, bars and movie theaters must remain closed, as well as school campuses and concert venues. 

Shopping malls can reopen for indoor operations with a 25% capacity and have common areas and food courts closed. Gyms, fitness centers and nail salons must continue outdoors services only. 

Ghaly said county reopening guidelines can be more stringent than state orders but not less stringent.

To check the color and what sector is open per county, visit

Where is L.A. County on the chart?

As of Friday, Los Angeles County and 37 others, or 87% of the state, fell under the purple category. Metrics for L.A. County marked 13.1 new positive cases per 100,000 and a 5% positivity rate. 

Newsom’s announcement comes as L.A. County Department of Public Health officials had shared over the week the rate of infection per 100,000 residents has dropped by 50% in the past month — from 400 cases per 100,000 residents to fewer than 200. The county had met five out of the six requirements to remove itself off the state’s former watch list but did not meet the 14-day case rate threshold of below 100 cases per 100,000 individuals. The current case rate is 198, according to Public Health.  

Each county must meet the metrics for two straight weeks before switching to another tier and they must wait 21 days between each move — a method aimed at avoiding the back-and-forth for businesses to reopen as seen under the former watch list framework. 

“We’re going to be more stubborn this time and have a mandatory wait time between moves,” said Newsom. “We didn’t do that last time and that is a significant distinction between what we’ve learned from the past. What we now are advancing is more stringent, but we believe a more steady approach to moving counties within tiers and modify the activities within those respective counties.” 

Counties are expected to be assessed weekly and changes will be shared on Tuesdays, starting Sept. 8. 

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