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California’s New ‘Blueprint’ for Reopening the State’s Economy

September 1, 2020Alerts

On August 28, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced California’s new reopening plan: The Blueprint for a Safer Economy (the Blueprint). The Blueprint is the most significant change to the state’s reopening plans since Governor Newsom halted reopening due to a surge in COVID-19 cases earlier this summer.

The Blueprint

Prior to the Blueprint, California relied on its county monitoring list to determine which activities and businesses were not safe to resume. The Blueprint completely revamped the monitoring list in favor of a colored-coded, four-tier framework focused on which counties are safe to continue reopening. Of the four tiers, tier one (purple) is the most restrictive and tier four (yellow) is the least restrictive.

As of August 31, 2020, the Blueprint’s effective date, most California counties were in Tier 1.


       Source: COVID19.CA.GOV

California residents are still required to adhere to social distancing measures and wear masks when outdoors or around others outside of their household. The various industry guidances still apply, as well.

The Blueprint makes it easier for California residents to respond to and keep abreast of reopening-related changes and restrictions. The drop-down menu on the homepage of the Blueprint simply allows one to enter the name of a county and the activity in question to determine the applicable tier and the restrictions for that activity. Here is an example of one activity and the applicable restrictions under each tier:

How Do Counties Move Up and Down the Tiers?

Counties move up or down the tiers based on assessments of COVID-related criteria including the number of cases per 100,000 residents and the percentage of tests with positive results. The California Department of Public Health will be releasing weekly assessments to determine whether a county can move up or down the tier system. A county will remain in a tier for a minimum of three weeks before being able to advance to another tier. A county must meet the criteria for the next tier for two consecutive weeks in order to progress. If a county fails to meet the criteria over the course of two consecutive weeks, the county must revert to the more restrictive tier.

Counties are only permitted to move one tier at a time even if their numbers qualify them to move ahead by multiple tiers. Similarly, if a county’s numbers qualify them for two different tiers, the most restrictive tier will apply. Tiers will be updated on Tuesdays begnning September 8, 2020. It is important to note that cities and counties are still permitted to implement or maintain more restrictive public health measures if deemed necessary. So it is still important to check your specific city and county regulations as well.

What’s Next?

The Blueprint allows individuals and businesses to monitor changes and plan ahead. However, Tier 4 (the highest tier) does not allow for the complete reopening of all businesses. Nor is there a “green” tier that allows for complete reopening of the State’s economy. As California counties progress through reopening, it is likely we will see additional tiers implemented to get as close as practicable to our pre-pandemic conditions.


Fox Rothschild will continue to provide updates regarding COVID-19 and its impact on employers. For questions regarding California’s new Blueprint, contact Liku T. Madoshi or any of our California labor and employment attorneys. For additional information, visit our Coronavirus Resources Page and subscribe for automated updates.