VC still on state COVID-19 monitoring list; indoor haircuts allowed

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Austin Widger, Ojai Valley News reporter
Gov. Gavin Newsom again revised COVID-19 reopening criteria Aug. 28, marking another change in what Ventura County has to do in order to reopen certain sectors and businesses in the local economy.
The state eliminated the county COVID-19 monitoring list and replaced it with a four-tier system for activities to reopen.
The tiers are widespread (purple), substantial (red), moderate (orange) and minimal (yellow). Ventura County currently falls under the purple widespread county risk level, which means that there are either more than seven daily new cases per 100,000 residents, or there are more than 8% of tests coming back positive.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Ventura County’s daily case rate stood at 9.1. Thus, it needs to reach seven or fewer for some more nonessential business operations to reopen.
The four tiers are as follows:
    • Purple is the most restrictive. It means there is still widespread transmission of COVID-19 — more than seven daily new cases per 100,000 residents or more than 8% of tests returning positive. Nearly 90% of the state is still in the purple tier, which means counties still must close many indoor operations.
    • Red is when there is substantial transmission — a new case rate between four to seven per 100,000 and a testing positivity rate between 5% to 8% — and some nonessential businesses must remain closed.
    • Orange is a new case rate of 1 to 3.9 per 100,000 and a testing positivity rate of between 2% to 4.9% and allows more openings.
    • Yellow is the least-restrictive tier, where most businesses are allowed to operate indoors, with masks and social distancing.
Under the widespread tier, the following can be outdoor only: personal-care services, museums, zoos, aquariums, place of worship, movie theaters, gyms, restaurants, and more. Bars, breweries and distilleries must remain closed if they do not serve food.
However, hair salons, barbershops and indoor malls were allowed to reopen on Monday, with modifications.
The popular Brenton’s Barber Shop in Ojai was one of those that reopened this week, for the first time since closing at the end of March. 
Owner Brenton Butler said the pandemic has been devastating to his business, finances and the other barber who leases space from him.
Butler said: “Being able to open has lightened the burden this pandemic has placed on our shoulders, yet there is still this lingering weight of responsibility during these unpredictable times. I have done my best to hold onto hope, yet the uncontrollable nature of shutdowns always looms in the back of my mind. Never knowing whether this phase of openings will last, it is a constant anxious feeling that comes with lack of routine and consistency. For now, we will do what we can with what we are given, as this attitude has been our anchor for the last five months.”
It could take weeks for Ventura County to reach the daily case rate of seven or below per 100,000 residents necessary to open some of these other businesses for indoor activities. State rules dictate that the county would have to be at that rate for at least two consecutive weeks to move to the lower tier.
For more information about what can be open at what capacity in each tier, visit