Butte County taken off most restrictive COVID-19 risk level, more businesses to open


Butte County has moved to a less restrictive tier in California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy and will now have the ability to open limited indoor dining, gyms, and more, Butte County Public Health announced on Tuesday. 

The tier system reflects California’s guidelines for expanding and suppressing activity in order to reduce the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Tier assignment is determined by a county’s COVID-19 case rate and positivity. Previously, Butte County sat in Tier 1, which referred to a widespread risk of community risk transmission. Under Tier 1, certain institutions such as places of worship, movie theaters and museums could not open indoor activity while other sectors such as retail, shopping centers and restaurants could open with strict restrictions.

Butte County qualified to move up from Tier 1 after meeting case rate and test positivity requirements. To qualify for Tier 2, Butte County needed to reach a case rate less than 4-7 cases per 100,000 residents with a test positivity rate of 5-8% or less. Currently, Butte County’s case rate is 5 cases per 100,000 residents with a 2.6% test positivity rate, according to Butte County Public Health’s press release.

“This is not the time to let your guard down,” said Dr. Robert Bernstein, Butte County Health Officer, in the press release. “Cover your mouth and nose when in public places, wash your hands, maintain 6 feet of distance from others, stay home if you are sick and please do not attend gatherings of any size as defined by the State.”

While the shift to less-restrictive activity guidelines prompts openings in higher capacities, schools, bars and offices remain closed, according to BCPH.

“Our current method of functioning at Tier 1 included only having one customer in at a time with face masks and everything per the guidelines,” said Laura BoBowker, manager at Tin Roof Bakery and Cafe. “We don’t expect too much change for us in the near future. We’re keeping tabs on what the town really wants to see and how they feel comfortable with things. It’s hard to balance that but we’re trying to be on the right side of whatever’s ethical.”

The release made note that only after the county remains under the Tier 2 requirements for two weeks schools may choose to open in-person instruction. Butte County must hit a rate of 1-3.9 cases per 100,000 residents with a test positivity rate of 2-4.9% in order to qualify for Tier 3.

Kimberly Morales can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @kimberlymnews.