Santa Barbara County Slides Backward into Purple Tier

Following Major Increase in Positivity Rate, Santa Barbara Joins 40 Other Counties

Gavin Newsom | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

Santa Barbara County joined nearly all other California counties Monday when it moved back into the most-restrictive purple tier. As of Sunday, the state’s new COVID-19 case rate has gone up 89.7 percent from two weeks prior.

For Santa Barbara, this means business reopenings go backward. Restaurants can once again only offer takeout or outside dining; movie theaters, gyms, museums, and more are only open outdoors while bars, breweries, and brewpubs not offering outdoor sit-down dining are closed entirely; and all retail stores are allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity. 

And another major change — the two-week cushion counties had to keep cases down is gone. Now, a county may be pulled back a tier after just one week of increased cases. Tier assessments used to happen on Tuesdays; now counties can move multiple tiers backward or forward at any time of the week, multiple times a week.


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“California has reported more than one million cases of COVID-19, a grim milestone matched only by Texas,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) “Tragically, more than 18,000 people have died. The daily average of new cases has risen an astonishing 89 percent from just two weeks ago. Because of that, I strongly support Governor Newsom’s decision to move 41 counties to the purple tier, the state’s most restrictive category, in an attempt to control the virus.”

For parents in Santa Barbara, this regression does not necessarily mean that in-person schooling is out of the question for their children. The schools in the area that have already made the shift to some form of in-person education may continue despite the tier change because they switched to in-person learning in a red tier. 

For those in the Santa Barbara and Goleta Union school districts, it’s more dicey. As long as the county is currently in the red tier or better the week that school starts — January 19 and 11, respectively — then school may resume on campus as planned. Otherwise, they will have to remain in distance-learning models. 


At the Santa Barbara Independent, our staff is working around the clock to cover every aspect of this crisis — sorting truth from rumor.  Our reporters and editors are asking the tough questions of our public health officials and spreading the word about how we can all help one another. The community needs us — now more than ever — and we need you  in order to keep doing the important work we do. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.

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