Paso Robles News|Tuesday, March 2, 2021
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COVID-19: SLO County forced into most restrictive tier, statewide mask mandate issued 

“I hear a lot of people blame Cal Poly for this and I want to be perfectly clear: No single group in our community is to blame for this fall back to the Purple Tier,” says Dr. Penny Borenstein.

–San Luis Obispo County has slid back into the most restrictive “purple tier” of the State of California’s reopening guidelines due to high new daily case counts.

The state made changes to the tier list process on Monday. Tiers can now change daily rather than on a weekly basis and the state says it can move counties back more than one tier if necessary. Counties previously had three days to implement the changes; but, because of “the extreme circumstances requiring immediate action, counties will be required to implement any sector changes the day following the tier announcement,” according to the California Department of Public Health. More than 94-percent of California by population will be in the tight purple-tier requirements.

“This is disappointing for everyone,” said County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein. “For weeks, we have seen a fast rise in cases here, across the state, and across the country. Our local hospitalization rates remain low.”

“Due to the rapidity of rise in case counts and hospitalizations, the state is requiring next-day action by counties in business sectors affected by backward movement to a more restrictive tier,” said Dr. Borenstein. “We recognize that this news takes some time to filter throughout the community and such change in business practice is not easily achieved overnight. We ask that our businesses make these changes right away, but we understand that it may take a matter of 2-3 days for universal compliance. We intend to educate rather than come down with robust enforcement action over the next few days.”

On Monday, SLO County had 712 active cases of COVID-19 and the County’s 14-day new cases averaged at around 65, the highest since the pandemic began. By contrast, in July when the County saw its second-largest surge in cases, active cases peaked at 481 and the 14-day average never rose above 46.

“I hear a lot of people blame Cal Poly for this and I want to be perfectly clear: No single group in our community is to blame for this fall back to the Purple Tier,” Dr. Borenstein said. “Even if we removed cases among Cal Poly students, our case rate would still likely put us back in the Purple Tier, according to our local data. Now is the time for each individual to take extra precautions and follow all health guidelines to slow the spread and help us move forward together.”

Businesses in the following categories are expected to be in compliance immediately:

  • Restaurants – Must move operations outdoors only
  • Fitness Centers (gyms, dance studios, gymnastics studios, yoga, pilates, etc.) – Must move operations outdoors only
  • Worship Services – Must move operations outdoors only
  • Museums / Zoos – Must move operations outdoors only
  • Movie Theatres – Must move operations outdoors only
  • Retail locations – Maximum occupancy now only 25 percent (instead of 50 percent)
  • Bars/breweries – No changes – still closed unless they serve full sit down meals and must close when food services end for the evening
  • Personal care services and hair salons/barbershops – No changes


To learn more about the restrictions and how they apply to San Luis Obispo County, click here.

In SLO County, 40 new cases were added on Monday, 54 on Sunday, and 118 cases were added on Saturday. The county now has a recorded 5,250 cases since counting began in March. The county recorded another death that was attributed to the virus, bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the county to 34.

To view detailed statistics, click here. 

All residents are urged to take protective actions to limit the spread of COVID-19: wear a face-covering in public, maintain six feet of distance from others outside your household, stay in SLO County (avoid traveling outside of the county), and wash your hands frequently.

For updates on COVID-19 in SLO County, visit or call the recorded Public Health Information Line at (805) 788-2903. A staffed phone assistance center at (805) 543-2444 is available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist with COVID-19 questions.

State issues mask-wearing mandate

People in California must now wear face coverings when they are outside of the home, unless one of the exemptions applies. The CDPH has issued revised mask guidance. Click here to view the guidance and exemptions. 

Governor issues statement on new restrictions

“We are sounding the alarm,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday in a statement. “California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet –faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer. The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes. That is why we are pulling an emergency brake in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Now is the time to do all we can – government at all levels and Californians across the state – to flatten the curve again as we have done before.” He also announced that he is considering a statewide curfew,

The rate of growth in confirmed COVID-19 cases is faster than it was in July, which led to a significant peak in cases, he said. This requires a swift public health response and action from all Californians to slow the spread of the virus, he said. Immediate action will help protect individuals at higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 and will help keep the state’s health care delivery system from becoming overwhelmed.

“The data we are seeing is very concerning. We are in the midst of a surge, and time is of the essence. Every day matters and every decision matters,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “Personal decisions are critical, and I am I imploring every Californian to stay home if they can, wear a mask whenever they leave their homes, limit mixing, practice physical distancing and wash their hands.”


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