The last two local counties to leave the "Purple" tier for the "Red" one in the state's metrics for reopening, Contra Costa and Sonoma counties, were promoted on Friday, several days ahead of the weekly Tuesday schedule.
Both counties can now begin having limited indoor dining along with the rest of the Bay Area starting on Sunday. They were moved up in status (or down, in the context of the green-to-purple ladder) alongside a large swath of Southern California counties today including Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino.
State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón (who just a few months ago was in the same role but for San Francisco County) announced the news.
"While we have reached a milestone today, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to help ensure we can put an end to this pandemic," said Aragón in a statement. "We must all do our part by getting vaccinated as soon as it’s our turn and continue to wear masks and practice physical distancing to keep our communities safe."
Statewide, the case-positivity rate hit 2.8% on Friday, and the number of new cases being reported per 100,000 residents in California is 8.1. Monterey and Lake counties remain in the "Purple" tier, as does much of the Central Valley.
Sonoma County officials welcomed the news, as KPIX reports. "The move to the 'Red' tier is the most hopeful news that our community has received in a long time,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins. "But now is not the time to let up. We need to continue to be smart and safe. That means wearing our masks, avoiding large gatherings and, most of all, getting tested."
Unlike other Bay Area counties that entered "Red" and "Orange" status for a period last fall, Sonoma County lagged behind in the "Purple" tier according to the state's metrics for daily cases, case positivity rate, and equity of pandemic response. Therefore this is the first time that indoor dining will be allowed at many restaurants in the county since almost one year ago.
And Sonoma had a double dose of good news today when the state announced that breweries and wineries statewide no longer needed to serve food in order to serve patrons outdoors.
Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano tells KPIX, "It is encouraging to see our data moving in the right direction, and it’s a testament to the hard work Contra Costa residents have put in to slow the spread of COVID-19."
San Mateo and Marin counties advanced to "Red" status on February 23; San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Napa counties advanced last week, on March 2; and Alameda and Solano counties followed on Tuesday of this week. With today's announcement, the entire nine-county Bay Area is together in being able to open museums and gyms with limited numbers of people indoors, along with restaurants, and increasing retail capacity to 50%.
There may not be a rush to reopen dining rooms or indoor tasting room in Sonoma, though. The Chronicle spoke to some business owners Friday who said they were waiting until they're staff was all fully vaccinated before forging ahead — and if the weather is nice, most guests have been enjoying the outdoor setups places have built anyway.
"We have a lot of outdoor space, and being indoors just doesn’t feel quite right to us yet," says Emma Lipp, co-owner of Valley Bar & Bottle in downtown Sonoma.