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September 29, 2020

Newsom replaces watchlist with new tiered reopening system

SACRAMENTO—Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday revealed what he called a new, more “stringent” four-tiered reopening system that allows counties to open their economies depending on their Covid-19 case and test positivity rates.

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The new system replaces the monitoring list and removes many of the old benchmarks counties had to meet in order to unlock swaths of their economy. Now, counties can begin to reopen if their news cases per 100,000 residents per day and positivity rates start to decline.

The new system is as follows:

Courtesy of the California Department of Public Health.

Thirty-eight counties, including Santa Cruz and Monterey, were in the “widespread” risk level on Aug. 28. Each county will be reassessed every Tuesday starting on Sept. 8, Newsom said. 

A county must spend at least 21 days in one tier before it can move to a less restrictive one, and it must also meet the metrics for the less restrictive tier for 14 consecutive days.

However, Santa Cruz County is expected to move from the “widespread” tier to “substantial” on Sept. 8 because it had already spent 14 days off the old monitoring list, Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency spokeswoman Corinne Hyland said. 

That move would allow several businesses deemed “non-essential” by state health orders to reopen their indoor operations with modifications. Restaurants, for example, can offer indoor services at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer, in that tier. Movie theaters and places of worship can also reopen in that tier.

For county- and industry-specific restrictions visit covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/.

Inking their future

Some businesses did not have to wait until that change to reopen. Barbershops and hair salons reopened Monday, as well as shopping centers and malls at 25% capacity.

Many businesses in Santa Cruz County were preparing to reopen during the final week of August, as the county had spent its 14th and final day on the monitoring list on Aug. 27. But the new system meant those industries had to once again postpone their plans.

Included on that long list is the tattoo industry, which under current restrictions must be completely shuttered unlike other personal care businesses that are allowed to move outdoors.

Misty Galvan, who owns Corralitos Tattoo, said she was ready for the green light last week after closing for the second time in late July, but has since had to push dozens of appointments to a future date—some until early 2021—and rely on unemployment benefits for at least another two weeks. 

She said she has received $167 a week from the State through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and also received the additional $600 stipend from the federal government, a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that expired on July 25.

“It’s nowhere near enough to pay all my bills and keep my family stable,” she said. “I’m definitely concerned about having to stay closed any longer, or having to close again in the future.”

She also said she was confused why her industry was not allowed to open along with hair salons and barbershops. Aside from mandatory temperature checks and symptom assessments, Galvan said many of the pandemic protocols handed down from the California Department of Public Health have been standard for professional tattoo shops for years. That includes strict disinfecting routines, appointment-only visits and various training in cross contamination, bloodborne pathogens and the use of personal protective equipment. 

“Our industry has always done this,” she said. “We are one of the most strictly regulated industries in the state. There’s so many hoops you have to jump through to open your shop, let alone stay open.”

Galvan said she believes her industry was left out because it lacks a strong lobbying association similar to the Professional Beauty Association, which claims to have successfully lobbied the state to allow hair salons and barber shops to reopen no matter how widespread Covid-19 might be in a community. 

She has since tried to find an association that advocates for California’s tattoo artists. The Professional Association of California Tattooers, one Galvan highlighted, started a GoFundMe account to raise funds so that it can more strongly support the state’s artists with lobbyists, lawyers and advocates. According to the account, that association has submitted papers to become a nonprofit and has received more than 100 donations totaling more than $11,000 to kickstart its campaign.

Galvan, who has owned her shop for seven years and been tattooing for 20, said she and other local artists were weighing whether or not to join that group or create their own to advocate at the local level.

“I’m living my dream that I had when I was 11 years old,” she said. “I’ve been working for what I have for three-quarters of my life. I’m going to do everything I can to keep this going… It’s time to speak up for our industry.”

Tony Nuñez
Tony Nuñez
Managing Editor Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor for five years before entering his current role in 2019. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus, he covers the city, business, housing, entertainment and more.

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