County of Marin - News Releases - Proactive Restrictions

For Immediate Release
November 12, 2020

Urgent Steps Needed to Avoid Economic Regression

Public Health introduces new restrictions to stem COVID-19 surge

San Rafael, CA – Marin County worked hard to graduate from red to orange COVID-19 status in October, but its residents will have to double down on efforts to prevent a step backward in the pandemic economic recovery.

As coronavirus cases surge in Marin, regionally, and nationally, the Public Health Division of Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said new precautions in the next few days and weeks will determine whether Marin is relegated back to the red Tier 2 (substantial risk) from the orange Tier 3 (moderate risk) on the State of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy scale.

Marin HHS has introduced recommended actions for industries and activities labeled higher risk for virus transmission. Businesses and organizations are being asked to take the following steps immediately: 

  • reduce indoor dining capacity from 50% to 25%;
  • reduce indoor movie theater capacity from 50% to 25% and close concessions; and
  • reduce capacity of indoor faith-based and cultural ceremonies from 50% to 25%.

Dr. Matt Willis, the County’s Public Health Officer, said the recommendations will become requirements Tuesday, November 17, if the trend of increased cases numbers continues.

Earlier this week, the average COVID-19 reported cases per day in Marin was double the average of the previous three weeks. If that rate is maintained or continues to increase, Marin will return to red Tier 2 status or Purple Tier 1 status as of November 24. Willis reminded the Marin County Board of Supervisors during its November 10 meeting that he has the option to invoke stricter public health policies than the state recommends.

“As COVID-19 rates increase across our community, public indoor environments become less safe because there is a higher probability that someone who is infected is indoors with you,” said Dr. Willis. “We’re seeing an increasing trend of cases linked to indoor gatherings and environments where masks are often removed, such as restaurants. Taking proactive steps in these high-risk areas could help prevent a shift in tier status which would result in even greater restrictions.” 

In late August, Marin was placed in purple Tier 1 (widespread risk) when the Blueprint for a Safer Economy scale was introduced. It was moved to red Tier 2 in mid-September and orange Tier 3 in late October. Businesses, schools, offices and other agencies must adhere to the state-mandated guidelines by taking precautions against the spread of COVID-19.

Marin HHS is not only urging residents to play it safe during holiday travel and gatherings, but doctors said strong consideration should be given to COVID-19 testing as well. Marin County Public Health’s guidance for holiday travel and gatherings, in addition a list of safe alternatives for holiday celebrations, can be found at

Answers to frequently asked questions can be found on Public Health’s webpage.



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