County of Marin - News Releases - Move to Tier 3 Status

For Immediate Release
October 27, 2020

Marin Graduates to Tier 3 COVID-19 Status

Steady progress against virus prompts new guidelines

San Rafael, CA – With its improving COVID-19 figures, Marin County is graduating from “red” to “orange” status within the State of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, allowing some businesses to reopen for the first time, while others can expand their operating capacity, effective today.

The Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was notified October 27 that the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is moving the county from Tier 2 or “substantial risk” status to the less restrictive Tier 3 or “moderate risk” level. Fewer daily cases, a reduction in the proportion of positive tests among those who are tested, and progress in addressing the County’s lowest-income communities factored in to the state’s determination. Marin’s high rate of testing combined with a measured approach to reopening has contributed to the orange status achievement.

  Tier 1
Tier 2
Tier 3
Tier 4
Marin County
Adjusted Case Rate per 100,000 > 7 4 to 7 1 to 3.9 < 1 2.6
Overall Test Positivity Rate > 8% 5% to 8% 2% to 4.9% < 2% 1.4%
EquityQuartile Test Positivity Rate > 8.0% ≤ 8.0% ≤ 5.2% ≤ 2.1% 2.4%

The primary changes allowed under the state order as Marin moves into Tier 3:

  • Allowed indoors at full capacity: retail establishments; indoor malls; libraries; office space (although continued telework is encouraged)
  • Allowed indoors at 50% capacity or 200 people (whichever is fewer): restaurants; museums; places of worship; movie theaters
  • Allowed indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people (whichever is fewer): gyms and fitness centers (and can utilize indoor pools); family entertainment centers; wineries; card rooms
  • Allowed outdoors only: bars and breweries

A full list of changes to business sector guidelines will be updated to the Marin Recovers website. All open businesses must complete a COVID-19 Site-Specific Protection Plan prior to reopening under Tier 3 restrictions. Guidance for the plan also is found on the Marin Recovers website.

On August 28, the state introduced its Blueprint for a Safer Economy, a four-tier framework by which counties are measured for loosening and tightening restrictions on social activities and business operations. Marin was initially placed in Tier 1, or purple status, and moved to Tier 2 on September 15 as its COVID-19 case figures improved. Sectors of business can progressively open more operations with moves up the list toward the final stage, Tier 4. A county must spend at least 21 days in any tier before advancing to a less restrictive one. As Marin experienced earlier this year, counties have to tighten back up if conditions worsen.

“We’ve all made sacrifices to get in front of this pandemic in Marin,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin’s Public Health Officer. “This progress is a sign of what we can do. But it way too early to let up. Just last week, Marin reached 100 COVID-19 deaths. It’s important to rethink the traditions to gather during the holidays, especially as flu season arrives. Our collective actions over the next few weeks will decide if we can retain this level of reopening.”

With the transition to Tier 3 status, Marin Public Health issued a new risk reduction order, which replaces the shelter-in-place order of May 15. The new order aligns Marin’s restrictions with current State of California public health orders and guidelines.

Follow the latest COVID-19 surveillance figures in Marin County on the Marin HHS website. Register online to receive a daily COVID-19 update from Marin HHS.


Dr. Matthew Willis
Public Health Officer
Health and Human Services

3240 Kerner Blvd.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 473-4163
Email: Dr. Matthew Willis
Marin HHS website