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Riverside County can open more sectors of its economy after being approved by California officials on Tuesday to move into a less-restrictive phase of the state’s tiered reopening plan.

The county is now in the red tier — the second phase — of California’s new color-coded, four-tiered, system that is guiding reopenings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That means indoor operations can resume once more for restaurants, houses of worship gyms and fitness centers, and movie theaters, albeit with limits on capacity and health requirements. Businesses that are already welcoming customers can add more capacity or services.

Once the county is in the red tier for two weeks, schools will be permitted to reopen for in-person instructions, provided they follow the state’s guidelines.

In a major change to the state’s guidance, California’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, announced Tuesday that nail salons in every county — regardless of the county’s tier — can provide services indoors.

Previously, a county had to be in at least the red tier for that to happen.

Riverside joins Orange and San Diego as the only counties in Southern California to have restrictions eased; surrounding counties, including Los Angeles and San Bernardino, as well as Ventura, remain in the purple tier, which has the most restrictions.

Riverside County was allowed to move into second phase after meeting the state’s criteria for consecutive weeks. Currently, the county has an unadjusted COVID-19 case rate of 5.8 per 100,000 residents, with a testing positivity rate of 5.8%, according to state data.

To get to the lower, orange tier — where more indoor businesses can open again, but with modifications — the county will have to achieve the following for two straight weeks: a case rate of 1 to 3.9 per 100,000 residents, and a testing positivity rate between 2 and 4.9%.

Riverside County has 57,482 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, with 52,776 recoveries. The virus has been linked to 1,172 deaths in the county, according to the latest health department figures. 

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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