This Wednesday will mark 2 full weeks of Riverside County being open in the state's orange tier, which has allowed some businesses to ease up on restrictions. Among the changes, restaurants were allowed to increase indoor capacity to 50 percent, while bars were permitted to allow patrons to drink outdoors and without having to order food.
Some businesses jumped at the opportunity at expanding their services, while others have cautiously adapted.
On Monday, the Palm Desert Aquatic Center resumed several water exercise classes for the first time in months. In August 2020 the center limited a reopening to adult lap swimming. Now, shallow water, deep water and arthritis exercise classes will be added to the list.
"I come here almost everyday," said Palm Desert resident, Corey Stolberg.
For local swimmers, hitting the water even if just for an hour has provided a much-needed escape.
"I can’t tell you how important it is because I love to swim and I love to exercise," said Stolberg.
"Just trying to get a little exercise after being locked up for so long and being sheltered in places. It’s nice to get outdoors," said Indian Wells resident, Manny Arias.
The center has become one of the latest to expand its reopening plan to align with the state's color-coded tier system. Earlier this month Governor Gavin Newsom announced that as long as COVID-19 trends continued to be low, the state could move away from the color-coded tier system altogether and fully reopen the economy back up by June 15. In between that time, however, moving to the yellow tier could be a possibility.
"We’re still at least 2 weeks away. Our positivity rate is right at 2, it has to be below 2," said Riverside County Department of Public Health spokesperson, Jose Arballo.
As of Monday Riverside County was not meeting yellow tier criteria. The adjusted case rate was at 3.6 percent, the positivity rate was at 2.0, and the health equity case rate came in at 2.9. Each metric had to be below 2, and for at least 2 weeks until the county could transition to the yellow tier, according to Arballo.
"The last week and a half maybe, the trend was going down and then it plateaued. We’re hoping that the plateau is just a reflection of spring break or Easter so we get through that, and over the next few weeks after that we’ll see a downward trend again. And then we’ll be back, able to get eventually to that yellow tier before the governor’s edict," Arballo said.
Meanwhile, businesses spanning across all different industries have moved along the tier system with their own timeline. While some were able to allow the newly-permitted capacity right away, other places, like the Palm Desert Aquatic Center, needed time to restaff.
"Since our water exercise classes did just resume now for the orange tier, we didn’t previously offer them in the red. However, moving forward, looking towards the yellow tier which is the next phase that we’re looking forward to, we’ll be able to add some more participants since are class sizes are limited at this time," said Palm Desert Aquatic Center coordinator, Alex Espinosa.
Classes have been limited to 10 people, but could expand to 14 under the yellow tier in the future, according to Espinosa.
The center has also been working to be able to open up recreational swimming in time for when kids are out of school. Additional staff is being hired, and include lifeguards and swim instructors. For more information on how to apply, you can call PDAC at 760-565-7467.