Credit: Cottage Health

Santa Barbara County will officially move into the state’s yellow tier on June 9 at 8 a.m. COVID restrictions and modifications relax for indoor locations, such as 50 percent occupancy for restaurants, gyms, spas, places of worship, and movie theaters; 25 percent or 100 people max at bars; and museums and zoos open indoors with modifications. (Full details can be found at

The move from orange to yellow means the county succeeded in finally getting its adjusted case rate below two persons per day per 100,000 residents for two weeks — down to 0.9 cases, after being firmly in yellow territory in criteria such as test positivity for a half month.

And just a week from now, the entire state will shed its colors and head back to a modified form of “normal.” Santa Barbara’s Health Officer, Dr. Henning Ansorg, said this meant the vaccines were working and that masking would become optional in all but some workplaces. “The community as a whole is safer the more persons are fully vaccinated,” Ansorg said, calling the vaccines very safe and effective even against newer variants of the virus. “If you haven’t done so already, please get vaccinated today.”

On June 15, all business sectors may open throughout California without restriction on capacity or physical distancing, but they must follow CDC guidelines on masking. The exception is “mega-events,” or activities like concerts and sports of 5,000 or more attendees indoors and 10,000 outdoors — vaccination verification or a negative COVID test will be required, as well as adherence to the state’s face-covering guidance. Vaccine verification is the card or a photo of the card that documents a full vaccination; however, “Businesses and venue operators may also utilize self-attestation at point of registration, during ticket purchase or on the day of the event prior to entry into the venue,” the state Public Health guidance states.

What California’s normal may mean, however, isn’t business as usual pre-2020. At the first vaccine lottery drawing on June 4, which no one in Santa Barbara County won, Governor Gavin Newsom explained the disease was still present and thus the state of emergency would continue. The dozens of executive orders that followed the initial emergency declaration would gradually be withdrawn as conditions improved, an advisor to the governor told the Los Angeles Times, a genuine consideration given the COVID surges that have beset EU countries and India after they thought they’d beaten the pandemic.

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