As you probably know, Santa Clara County's Covid-19 risk status was changed from Moderate (Orange) to Widespread (Purple) on November 16 by an order of Santa Clara County's Public Health Department. Until recently, Santa Clara County had been looking like quite the success story of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy risk framework that's being used by the State of California. We had low infection counts and high testing rates that allowed us to progressively do a little more every month or so.
Then November hit. The infection count not only started going the wrong direction, but accelerated so fast in the wrong direction that the Santa Clara County Public Health Department skipped the formality of allowing everyone to have two weeks to turn things around before dropping back another tier. We were scheduled to go from Orange (Tier 3) to Red (Tier 2). Instead, we skipped right over the Red level and went straight back to the most restrictive level (Purple).
What exactly does going from Orange to Purple mean for places like Downtown Campbell?
- No indoor dining.
- No indoor entertainment venues.
- No indoor fitness classes or gyms.
- Bars can only operate as restaurants with alcohol and not as outdoor bars.
- Retail stores have a maximum capacity limit.
For the most part, things didn't change as much as one might fear. This is because California's risk framework had been adjusted repeatedly to allow other types of services to continue operating at the more restrictive levels as the risks of certain types of activities were judged to be not as great as initially thought once safety mitigations were enacted.
Originally, barbershops, salons, massage, and esthetician services could not be done at the Purple Tier. That changed first for barbershops and salons and was later also changed for personal services such as massage and estheticians.
There are limits to the number of people who are allowed to be shopping inside a retail store at any given time, but let's be frank. When we're talking about small retailers, most were seldom ever in little danger of exceeding their current capacity limits even in normal times.
This means that most of what you would want to access is still available. You can do all of the following under our current Purple level of risk:
- Dine outdoors
- Order take-out and order craft cocktails to go with it
- Shop at a retail store or order something for curbside pick-up
- Get a massage, a facial, a wax job, or a haircut
On November 21, 2020 there was an additional limited stay-at-home order issued by the State of California that limited non-essential activities between the hours of 10pm and 5am for all counties in the Purple tier. What's considered an essential activity is actually pretty generous so you can still do things like order takeout or get food delivered.
For all practical purposes the impact the change in tier ratings even with the additional 10pm limited curfew is low for most people and the change in tier status all the way back to Purple is more of a wake-up call to be aware of how our individual small choices can lead to the pandemic worsening rapidly.
The good news is that Santa Clara County is better suited to reverse the slide into worse infection tiers. We were in a much better position than many other counties when the infection spike started happening so even with the latest increases, it's not a foregone conclusion that everything is going to come completely undone.
We can keep a lid on this. Avoid taking the risks you can avoid and do things to shrink your risks when you can't avoid them. This begins and ends with being diligent about wearing a mask properly and keeping your social distance as much as possible when you're in public.