Riverside County could advance to the next tier of reopening on Tuesday as key coronavirus metrics continue to remain below state thresholds.
The county is currently classified in the most restrictive purple tier, but county public health officials say they're optimistic the state will shift the region to the less restrictive red tier as early Tuesday.
In the red tier, some indoor businesses are permitted to resume operations, including nail salons, movie theaters, malls, and places of worship – all with reduced capacities.
Indoor dining at restaurants would be allowed to reopen as well, at 25 percent capacity.
The prospect had some restaurant owners rejoicing in Palm Springs Monday night.
"We do have a lot of people we have to turn away and it's going to be wonderful not to have to do that," said Kelle Cavanaugh Baker, owner of Blue Coyote Grill.
Despite having plenty of outdoor dining space, she said indoor dining would open up even ore business that, in her view, every restaurant needs right now. "Every table counts for sure," she said.
Some downtown patrons said it could be too soon for them to feel comfortable eating indoors.
"It's too close proximity," said Mack King. "People do have to unmask; you are talking. At least outside, to me, you can space out a little more."
County public health spokesman Jose Arballo said advancing would not be a signal that residents are in the clear with coronavirus.
"The safety measures you took before still need to be taken and we'll keep pushing forward if we can," Arballo said. "We don't want to have an idea that we're just going to open up and everything's back to normal."
The official announcement will come tomorrow from the state. Officials evaluate counties reopening status every week on Tuesdays to determine whether the criteria has been met to move through the four color-coded tiers.
The county is currently below two key metrics for the last two weeks, new cases and positivity rate.
What changes from Purple to Red?
- Restaurants indoors (max 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
- All retail indoors (max 50% capacity)
- Shopping centers indoors (max 50% capacity, closed common areas)
- Museums, zoos, and aquariums indoors (max 25% capacity)
- Places of worship indoors (max 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
- Movie theaters indoors (max 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
- Gyms and fitness centers indoors (max 10% capacity)
There are no changes for hair salons & barbershops, family entertainment centers, offices, and cardrooms.
What would the change mean for local schools?
The county would have to remain in the red tier for at least two weeks before schools can begin to reopen for in-person classes.
Numerous schools around the county and 5 in the Coachella Valley were able to reopen in-person due to a waiver. Schools had to demonstrate they are able to operate safely before the waiver was approved.