After a recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases, Sacramento County has dropped to its former purple tier status that calls for reclosing many public places to help stop the spread of the deadly virus.

Sacramento County Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye, left, is shown conversing with Dr. Peter Beilenson, Director of the Department of Health Services. (Photo by Russell Stiger, Jr.)

Purple is the first and most restrictive level of the governor’s four-tier color system, introduced in August, that is the state’s “blueprint for reducing COVID-19 with revised criteria for loosening and tightening restrictions on activities.” Being at the purple level affects everything from indoor dining to church services. Indoor gyms, restaurants and family entertainment centers must close. Many places had only just reopened after months of uncertainty.

Movie theaters and churches can remain open with modified operations– with the maximum of 25 percent of capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Retail, shopping centers and libraries and can also operate at 25 percent capacity. Nail and hair salons and barber shops can operate normally following regulated guidelines for face coverings and social distancing. Bars can operate if they serve sit-down, outdoor meals.

There are also ramifications for schools, which had just recently started welcoming students back onto campuses. According to the County public health website, schools that have reopened for in-person instruction, either under a waiver from the County public health department or while the county was in Red Tier 2, are permitted to continue to conduct in-person instruction. Schools that have not reopened must wait until they are eligible again, either via a waiver, for grades TK-6, or by waiting until the county returns to Red Tier 2 for at least two weeks.

The reversal of status is effective Friday, November 13. It comes at the beginning of colder weather and a flu season health officials expect will further exacerbate COVID-19 exposure.

Those who have questions about recent changes are being invited to participate in the county public health department’s series of virtual question and answer sessions featuring top health officials Dr. Olivia Kasirye and Dr. Peter Beilenson. The next COVID-19 Community Conversation is scheduled for Thursday, November 19 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. The session will be held on Zoom. Community members can register online in advance at

Future sessions are set for 6:00 p.m. on December 3 and 17.

By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer