Indoor dining once again allowed
With vaccination rates rising and COVID-19 cases declining, San Bernardino County transitioned to the less restrictive red tier on Sunday, March 14. The county had been in the state’s most restrictive purple tier since last August.
“People throughout our county have worked relentlessly over the past year to protect each other’s health and safety,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. “This has been a community-wide effort involving everyone from healthcare professionals and essential workers to businesses and residents following strict public health protocols. Our diligence is now beginning to pay off.”
Corwin Porter, the county’s public health director, noted that the county saw 47 new positive cases on March 9, compared to 5,421 new cases on Jan. 4 — a 99% decrease. The county’s current case rate is 5.2 cases per 100,000 residents, its positivity rate is 2.8 percent and its equity positivity rate is 3.2 percent.
“We have seen a steady decline in all the key metrics, including hospitalizations, and that decline should persist as we continue vaccinating more and more residents every week,” Porter said.
The move into the red tier means numerous local businesses – including gyms, restaurants, movie theaters and museums – can open for indoor services with modifications.
• Gyms will be allowed to open indoors at 10 percent capacity.
• Retailers and malls can operate at 50 percent capacity.
• Hair and nail salons can continue to operate indoors with modifications.
• Restaurants can operate indoors at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
• Movie theaters can reopen at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
• Museums, zoos and aquariums can reopen indoors at 25 percent capacity.
• Libraries can open at 50 percent capacity.
• Outdoor live events can resume at 20 percent capacity (effective April 1).
• Amusement parks can reopen at 15 percent capacity and small group restrictions (effective April 1).
• Schools may reopen fully for in-person instruction following re-opening guidance. Local school officials will decide whether and when that will occur.
Porter emphasized that, while improving numbers are allowing the county to proceed into the red tier, residents should not let up on the behaviors that have helped us achieve this success.
“We encourage you to enjoy the additional opportunities created by our move to the red tier, but please remember to keep wearing face coverings, wash your hands, maintain physical distance from others and avoid large social gatherings,” he said. “We’ve made huge progress but we’re not out of the woods yet.”
Kirk Christopherson, who opened the Lake Arrowhead Sports Grille with his wife, Karen, last October, said that “it’s about time. We’ve been waiting for this all year.
“We have been closed since mid-December. It has been a real struggle. But we will survive and are looking for a great year. We will abide by all the new rules and do our best to keep everyone safe.”
The Blue Jay restaurant opened on March 17 for St. Patrick’s Day and will be open Wednesdays through Sundays.
Speaking for the Running Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, Kevin Somes, president of the board, said, “Many local businesses have suffered as a result of the pandemic and our mountain restaurants have struggled with no indoor dining, given the cooler winter temperatures. The fact that moving into the red tier allows for indoor dining will greatly help our restaurateurs.
“With snow predicted for Monday (March 15) and cold temperatures for a few days following the storm, this is great news for local restaurants in particular. As always, the Running Springs Area Chamber of Commerce urges everyone to continue to support all of our local business and to Shop on Top!”
“Sure, it’s positive news that, after a year of closures and constant rule changes, businesses can finally begin to open,” said Robin Bull, executive director of the Lake Arrowhead Communities Chamber of Commerce. “But it is just a beginning because these partial openings with the limitations on capacity make it very difficult to get businesses to thrive (or survive).
“Plus,” Bull added, “there are so many new expenses associated with COVID compliance – more expense, less revenue, reduced capacity. The lion’s share of profit pressure is on the small businesses – rents, utilities and bills also don’t go away.”
“We are encouraged to see our county stepping into the red tier and moving toward an open commerce,” said Louis Boehle, president of the Crestline-Lake Gregory Chamber of Commerce board of directors. “It gives our businesses a sense of hope as this pandemic has affected each one of us, one way or the other. Let’s continue to work together to move us into the next tier so additional businesses can reopen.
“The chamber thanks you for your continued support of our local businesses. It means so much to each of us – the love and support we receive from our community,” Boehle added.