Indoor movie theaters in Sacramento and San Diego will have to close due to those counties being moved back into the state’s most restrictive “purple” tier due to higher case rates of COVID-19.
On Tuesday, the state’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mark Ghaly, announced 11 counties that are being required to move back to more restrictive measures. No counties were moved into a less restrictive tier.
Nearly all of the nation’s movie theaters closed in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Aug. 28 that 87% of the state’s population, or 38 of the 58 counties (including Los Angeles and Orange County), were in the “purple” tier or “widespread” tier. The purple designation means that more than 8% of tests are coming back positive and there are more than seven new cases daily per 100,000 residents.
Sacramento and San Diego, however, have been in “red tier” or “substantial” counties with 4% to 7% rates of positive tests and four to seven news cases daily. That designation allows movie theaters to begin operations with capacity limited to 25% or 100 people, whichever is less. Orange County, just south of Los Angeles County, also moved into the red tier in the first week of September and saw reopenings. The massive Los Angeles market remains in the purple ties and has been closed since March other than a few drive-ins.
Counties must stay in each tier for at least three weeks before they can move to a less restrictive tier in California. They will only be eligible to move to a less restrictive tier if their numbers show improvement for at least two weeks.
San Diego was California’s first major market to move from the purple to the red tier, and AMC and Regal cinema chains reopened San Diego multiplexes in early September prior to Labor Day weekend.