Seyfarth Synopsis: As several counties struggled to get, and remain, off of the California County Data Monitoring List, Governor Newsom unveiled a new framework with revised criteria for loosening and tightening COVID-19 restrictions that replaces the monitoring list altogether. This shift brings with it the reopening of some non-essential indoor activities and the re-closure of others.

On the afternoon of Friday, August 28, 2020, Governor Newsom announced California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, replacing the California County Data Monitoring List that previously dictated what businesses and activities were allowed to operate. The State’s new COVID-19 guidance imposes risk-based criteria on loosening (and tightening) restrictions on permitted activities. The Blueprint also expands the length of time between restriction modifications to allow the State time to assess how any modification impacts the trajectory of the disease. Under the Blueprint framework, effective Monday, August 31, 2020, some non-essential indoor business operations were given the green light to reopen and others were forced to close.

Phoenix Tears Won’t Help Shed These Tiers

The State Public Health Officer issued a new order on August 28, superseding the previous July 13 order and further explaining how the Blueprint will be implemented. Built on a 4-tier system, the Blueprint contains four colors, ranging from Purple Tier 1 where the risk of community disease transmission is highest (or “widespread”) to Yellow Tier 4 where the risk of community disease transmission is lowest (or “minimal”):

Available at Blueprint, Tier Framework (Last visited September 1, 2020).

Not The Marauder’s Map You’re Used To

With the new framework comes a simpler means of keeping Californians informed as to where their county falls and what activities are allowed in each county. The State’s county tracking webpage offers up-to-date information on different counties’ tier statuses. Users can search by county and activity to see whether a particular business or activity is currently permitted. The page also offers a color-coded map and includes statewide metrics.

Hand Me My Time-Turner

The State will conduct weekly assessments of indicator data beginning on September 8, 2020, and will release updated tier statuses every Tuesday. The key indicator data is case and positivity rates, but the framework also takes into account equity metrics assessing data collection, testing access, and contact tracing for California communities most impacted by the virus. Unless the Public Health Officer specifies otherwise, there is a mandatory 21-day waiting period before a county can move between tiers, and counties may only progress one tier at a time, even if their metrics qualify for a more advanced tier. If a county’s metrics fall into two different tiers, the county will be assigned to the more restrictive tier. If a county’s indicators dip to a more restrictive tier’s metrics for two consecutive weeks, the county tier status will be demoted and, within 3 days, the county must implement the enhanced restrictions.

Additionally, local health jurisdictions may continue to implement or maintain more restrictive public health measures if their Local Health Officer determines that health conditions in that jurisdiction warrant such measures.

Workplace Solutions

Navigating the constant COVID-19 policy changes in California can be more complicated than traversing the travails of the Triwizard Tournament. But luckily, Seyfarth continues to closely monitor California COVID-19 developments for you. Please be sure to visit our COVID-19 Resource Center, or contact your favorite Seyfarth attorney directly if you have any questions.


Edited by Coby Turner