Governor Unveils New Tiered Structure for Economy Under COVID-19

  • Sep 9, 2020

Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, a plan for living with COVID-19 that implements stringent and slower processes for statewide response to the pandemic. The plan imposes risk-based criteria on tightening and loosening COVID-19 allowable activities and expands the length of time between changes to assess how any movement affects the trajectory of the disease.

The Blueprint builds on lessons learned from the first six months of the disease – and the new scientific understanding that has been collected – to create a new system for regulating movement and COVID-19 transmissions. It includes:

  • At least 21 days to expand activities beyond the initial tier to ensure California better limits the spread of the virus
  • Mandatory metrics – case rates and test positivity – to measure how widespread COVID-19 is in each county and guide what is allowed
  • A uniform state framework, with four categories instead of 58 different sets of rules
  • A more nuanced way of allowing activity: Instead of open vs. closed, sectors can be partially opened and progressively add to their operations as disease transmission decreases
  • A new process for tightening back up again quickly when conditions worsen

Based on recent data, each county will fall into one of four colored tiers:

  • Purple (Widespread)
  • Red (Substantial)
  • Orange (Moderate)
  • Yellow (Minimal)

Based on how prevalent COVID-19 is in each county and the extent of community spread. That color will indicate how sectors can operate. For example, in the Purple tier where the disease is widespread, restaurants can only operate outdoors. But once a county has achieved a lower level of disease transmission, restaurants can operate with 25 percent capacity indoors or 100 patrons, whichever is fewer.

It relies on two leading health metrics:

  • number of cases per 100,000 residents
  • percentage of COVID-19 tests that come back positive

In addition, counties will also be required to show they are targeting resources and making the greatest efforts to prevent and fight COVID in communities and with individuals with the highest risk and demonstrate improvements in outcomes.

Counties must remain in every tier but purple for a minimum of 21 days before being eligible to move into the next tier. Each Tuesday, California will update each county’s data for the previous week and make corresponding changes to tiers. To move into a less restrictive tier, a county must meet that tier’s criteria for two straight weeks.

Conversely, counties that fail to meet the metrics for their current tier for two consecutive weeks must move to the next most restrictive tier. The plan also includes an “emergency brake” where the state can intervene more immediately for concerning factors like hospitalizations.

The website that has been used throughout the pandemic,, has been revamped to be easier to understand and navigate. Here you can find out where your county falls and what activities are allowable in each county.

A link to the new color-coded system can be seen here:

Visit CPSA’s COVID resource page for more tools and online courses to help protect you and your workers.