Santa Clara County moves to Purple Tier as Governor Newsom pulls ‘emergency brake’

Updated Thursday, November 19, 3pm

Update for Thursday, November 19, 3pm: Governor Newsom has imposed a curfew on all California counties in the Purple Tier, lasting one month. The ‘limited Stay at Home order’ prohibits non-essential work and gatherings between 10pm and 5am, beginning this Saturday, November 21 and lasting one month.

Governor Newsom announced Monday that 41 counties including Santa Clara County will be moving to the Purple Tier effective Tuesday, November 17. Case rates have doubled in the last 10 days and are rising at the ‘fastest rate yet,’ according to today’s update.

The move follows an announcement on Friday, November 13 by Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody prohibiting indoor dining and instituting additional restrictions on similar ‘high-risk’ activities, slated to go into effect on Tuesday, in preparation for an anticipated move to the Red Tier.  In that announcement health officials speculated on the possibility of moving into the Purple Tier “within weeks.”

‘Emergency brake’ provisions also reduce the roll-back period from two weeks to one, meaning counties can fall back faster, and require that changes go into effect ‘urgently’ – within 24 hours, versus three days. And, health updates and Tier status will be reassessed by the state multiple times during the week, versus weekly. Governor Newsom also alluded to exploring further restrictions including a curfew.

During a later news conference Monday, Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody discussed the sudden change in tiers.

“Today’s announcement from the State reflects that we appear to be heading into the worst phase of the pandemic to date,” said Dr. Cody. “Rapidly rising cases and hospitalizations should serve as a wake-up call for our entire community. We ask every resident to do everything they can to slow the spread of transmission in our community, protect our most vulnerable residents, and save lives.”

Santa Clara County last left the Purple Tier on September 8, when health data permitted an advancement to the less-restrictive Red Tier and an additional upgrade to Orange on October 13.

Santa Clara County Counsel James Williams clarified guidelines for local schools under the new restrictions. Schools that have not yet opened for in-person instruction cannot open under the Purple Tier, he said. However, schools that have already opened for in-person instruction can continue to operate, as long as they are following the protocols that the State and that the County has put forward for safer operations of in-person instruction. Schools that are on a phased opening that has already been scheduled and put in place can continue their phased opening.

Restrictions relating to the County’s new Purple Tier status:

  • Bars and breweries – closed
  • Family entertainment centers – outdoor only, with modifications
  • Grocery stores – open at 50% capacity 
  • Gyms – outdoors only with modifications
  • Hair and nail salons – indoors with modifications
  • Movie theaters – outdoors only with modifications
  • Offices – can work remotely
  • Restaurants – outdoor only, take-out and delivery ok
  • Retail – open at 25% capacity 
  • Shopping centers – open at 25% capacity; common areas and food courts closed

In cases where State and County restrictions do not align, the stricter rule applies.