Per Marin County Public Health and Marin Recovers officials, news on Marin’s tier adjudication process with the state of California won’t be updated until Sunday, Sept. 13. We’ll update as soon as we get word.


On the eve of Tuesday’s expected reopening of an array of business sectors in Marin for the first time since late June, the state of California altered its methodology for calculating key COVID-19 metrics. The controversial, unexpected move pushed Marin from the red “tier 2” it was slated to move into Tuesday back into the purple “tier 1” it’s been in since the state debuted its new Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework in late August.

That methodological shift could have disastrous consequences for local businesses hoping for a resumed reopening as we head into the fall – unless County of Marin officials are able to convince the state this week to reconsider its decision on Marin via an adjudication process this week.

For now, given the incredibly late notice of the decision, Marin businesses are able to open Tuesday morning without any consequences, but won’t be able to continue its reopening on Wednesday and thereafter unless explicitly given the green light to do so from county officials.

As a reminder, here are the reopenings that were previously approved to occur starting Tuesday, Sept. 8, that are now on hold:

  • Retail establishments are allowed to open indoors at 50% capacity
  • Personal care services are allowed to open indoors
  • Museums are allowed to open indoors with 25% capacity
  • Places of worship are allowed to open with 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
  • Movie theaters are allowed to open indoors with 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
  • Gyms are allowed to open indoors with 10% capacity
  • Restaurants are allowed to open indoors with 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer, for the first time since when Marin was placed on the watch list as a result of a sustained spike in COVID-19 metrics. Marin indoor dining’s return was previously reversed in early July after it was allowed to open allowed to open on June 29
  • Hair salons and barbershops could move to 50 percent of their space’s maximum capacity indoors.
  • Hotels, which were allowed to open on Aug. 24, would be allowed to open their fitness centers at 10 percent capacity.

“We’re essentially on a hold,” Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis said. “”We’re working with the state to make sure the tier we end up in is based on a mutual understanding of our numbers. This comes as surprise to me and to our community.”

The “hold” allows Marin to have a placeholder for a conversation about this before Marin gets categorized into either the purple or red tiers for the next three weeks, Willis added. “We’ll be working with our epidemiologists and the state’s and the state’s epidemiologists to see what changed on their end.”

The discrepancy centers around the credit that Marin had received from the state’s previous methodology that credited Marin for its high testing rates, a bonus of sorts on top of its metrics on new daily case numbers per 100,000 residents, as well as positivity rates. The state adjusted its rates – even though it had informed Marin that it would open within the red “tier 2” on Tuesday, with the county sending out a press release on Friday confirming that decision.

“I think we can sort this out in a matter of days,” Willis said, noting that a rise in case counts in the final week of August was based solely around an outbreak at a skilled nursing facility on Novato. 

“The state is in control,” Willis said.

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