Blueprint for a Safer Economy

Last updated October 5, 2020 at 4:11 PM

California has a blueprint for reducing COVID-19 in the state with revised criteria for loosening and tightening restrictions on activities.

Understand your county’s status

Every county in California is assigned to a tier based on its test positivity and adjusted case rate. At a minimum, counties must remain in a tier for at least 3 weeks before moving forward. Data is reviewed weekly and tiers are updated on Tuesdays. To move forward, a county must meet the next tier’s criteria for two consecutive weeks. If a county’s metrics worsen for two consecutive weeks, it will be assigned a more restrictive tier. Public health officials are constantly monitoring data and can step in if necessary.


Current tier assignments as of September 29, 2020

All data and tier assignments are updated weekly every Tuesday.

All data and tier assignments are based on results from week ending September 19, 2020. See how tiers are assigned and change, as well as county historical data (California Blueprint Data Chart) at the California Department of Public Health guidance page.


Questions and answers

Activities and businesses that have a lower risk of spreading COVID-19 are allowed to open sooner. Higher-risk activities or businesses aren’t allowed until later tiers. An activity or business’s tier depends on whether it can:

  • Accommodate mask wearing at all times (for example, eating and drinking requires removing masks)
  • Allow physical distance between individuals from different households
  • Limit the number of people per square foot
  • Limit time that an individual is at the business or activity
  • Limit time of exposure
  • Limit mixing of people from different households
  • Limit amount of physical interactions of visitors/patrons
  • Increase airflow (such as operating outdoors or opening windows and doors) 
  • Limit activities that are known to increase virus spread (like singing, shouting and heavy breathing)

As of August 31, 2020, counties in the Widespread (purple) tier may open some businesses and activities with modifications, including all retail, shopping centers at maximum 25% capacity, and hair salons and barbershops indoors.

The Blueprint for a Safer Economy replaces the County Data Monitoring List for determining what business can and cannot open.

So why change? We learned a lot over the first several months of the pandemic about COVID-19 and how it spreads. For example, we know how much safer outdoor activities are than indoor ones and that it’s critical everyone wears a mask to limit the spread of the disease. This blueprint incorporates what we’ve learned.

The Blueprint for a Safer Economy is the next evolution of our response. We’ve revised the criteria and the time between changing tiers. We’ve made it easy for counties to see how changes affect the disease’s trajectory and for businesses and customers to plan ahead. And we’ve given Californians one place to look up whether a business or activity is allowed near them.

If a county’s case rate and positivity rate fall into different tiers, the county remains in the stricter tier.

Schools in the Widespread (purple) tier aren’t permitted to reopen for in-person instruction, unless they receive a waiver from their local health department for TK-6 grades.

Schools can reopen for in-person instruction once their county has been in the Substantial (red) tier for at least two weeks. Schools must follow these guidelines when they reopen or if they have to close again.

  • Wear a mask in public.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Keep at least six feet of physical distance when in public.
  • Limit mixing with people you don’t live with.

County risk level

Adjusted cases

Positivity rate


Many non-essential indoor business operations are closed

More than 7

Daily new cases (per 100k)

More than 8%

Positive tests


Some non-essential indoor business operations are closed


Daily new cases (per 100k)

5 – 8%

Positive tests


Some indoor business operations are open with modifications

1 – 3.9

Daily new cases (per 100k)

2 – 4.9%

Positive tests


Most indoor business operations are open with modifications

Less than 1

Daily new cases (per 100k)

Less than 2%

Positive tests


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