Watsonville coronavirus

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—California health officials on Tuesday moved Santa Cruz County into the less restrictive “Moderate” or Orange tier, meaning that several businesses can reopen and welcome in more customers.

The move means that the county is seeing 1-3.9 new cases per 100,00 in population. Previously, the county was in the “Substantial” or red category, which is designated for those with 4-7 new cases per 100,000. 

“We are doing very good about where we are as a county in terms of our Covid response,” Santa Cruz County Health Officer Gail Newel said during a press conference Tuesday morning.

Beginning today, restaurants, places of worship, movie theaters and museums may increase indoor operations to 50% capacity, Newel said.

In addition, retail establishments can go to full capacity.

Bars, breweries and distilleries may resume outdoor operations, and wineries can resume indoor operations at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

Gyms and fitness centers may increase indoor capacity from 10% to 25%. 

Amusement parks, family entertainment centers, nonessential offices and live-audience sports, which were restricted under the previous tier, may open with modifications.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, for example, can allow 500 guests at a time for outdoor activities only, and only county residents.

Boardwalk spokesman Kris Reyes was not available for comment Tuesday afternoon. An employee who answered the phone said that officials are considering options about how, and when, to open.

Despite the good news, Newel said that the lessened restrictions do not mean that people should stop practicing safety measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. This includes wearing face masks, social distancing and avoiding large group gatherings.

“This does not indicate that you are any safer when you are out and about in our community,” she said. “This is not some kind of magic change in our community. You need to remember to take all the same precautions that you are taking already.”

Also during the press conference, Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency Director Mimi Hall said that the Covid-19 testing site at Ramsay Park in Watsonville will soon increase its capacity to 165 tests per day. Officials hope to add a second “lane” at that site that will offer an additional 165 tests per day.

The county is also seeking an additional site in North County with a capacity of 165 tests per day, Hall said.

For local information on COVID-19, go to www.santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus, call 211 or text “COVID19” to 211211. Residents may also call 454-4242 between 8am and 5pm, Monday through Friday.

For information on California’s tiered system, visit covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy.

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Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.


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