Good To Go, Jamaican and American Cuisine, purchased Igloos with the grant in order to offer heated outdoor dining. (298816)

As COVID-19 case rates, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to decrease, the County Department of Public Health (DPH) urges residents to proceed with caution, as effective March 15, the following re-openings are now permitted with required safety protocols for masking, distancing and infection control:

• Museums, zoos and aquariums can open indoors at 25 percent capacity.

• Gyms, fitness centers, yoga and dance studios can open indoors at 10 percent capacity with masking requirements for all indoor activities.

• Movie theatres can open indoors at 25 percent capacity with reserved seating only where each group is seated with at least six feet of distance in all directions between any other groups.

• Retail and personal care services can increase capacity to 50 percent with masking required at all times and for all services.

• Restaurants can open indoors at 25 percent max capacity under certain conditions and outdoor dining can accommodate up to six people per table from three different households.

• Indoor Shopping Malls can increase capacity to 50 with common areas remaining closed; food courts can open at 25 capacity adhering to the restaurant guidance for indoor dining.

• Institutes of Higher Education can re-open all permitted activities with required safety modifications except for residential housing which remains under current restrictions for the Spring semester.

• Schools are permitted to re-open for in-person instruction for students in grades 7-12 adhering to all state and county directives.

• Private gatherings can occur indoors with up to three separate households, with masking and distancing required at all times. People who are fully vaccinated can gather in small numbers indoors with other people who are fully vaccinated without required masking and distancing.

“I will be engaging in outdoor dining, where you can have multiple households,” said Supervisor Holly Mitchell, who explained she has been having meals with the same folks for a year now. “I’m ready for a break, and I’m sure the feeling is mutual.”

Mitchell and Dr. Mutu Davis were online recently during an Ethnic Media Services briefing to discuss the county’s move to the red tier during the pandemic.

“As a mother, I trusted my healthcare provider and preventing him from being at risk from preventable disease,” Mitchell said, referring to the caring of her young son, keeping his shot records then and comparing that to the vaccines available for COVID-19. “I have seen how this virus has ravaged the African-American community and I want to do all I can to end this duel pandemic — both public health and economic. We need to confront that fear with fact.”

Davis, a health officer with the DPH agreed.

“Twenty-five percent maximum occupancy for now, in the red tier,” Davis said. “The same for dining, for places of worship, same for movie theaters. The only difference is the gym, where there’s maximum 10 percent capacity, because there’s more exertion there.”

“The vaccine helps your body build up defenses against COVID-19,” he said. “We know what’s in the vaccine. People want to understand how it got to us so quickly.”

Davis explained that the scientific community used its experience in fighting the SARS epidemic in 2002 and MERS in 2012, which helped them develop the vaccine. Additionally, a lot of government funding was received toward vaccine production.

“None of the steps, in terms of safety, were put aside,” Davis said.

“This is not giving you something to make you sick, it’s going to protect you.”

To date, nearly 2,742,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the county. Currently, people who are eligible for the vaccine include healthcare workers, residents and staff at long-term care facilities, people who are age 65 or older, education and childcare workers, food and agriculture workers, emergency service workers and law enforcement, and people with certain serious health conditions and disabilities.

“People say ‘it’s changing every day’ Yes, it is,” Mitchell said. You are empowered to know. It’s changing because the circumstances of this virus are changing. Now we’re vaccinating our teachers, child care providers and food service workers. And so all of these things are hopeful. We just have to continue to be vigilant, continue to be smart. And make sure our county residents get what they need to be safe.”

Many neighborhood pharmacies are now offering appointments. Insurance is not required. If you are unable to use the web-based appointment system at, call (833) 540-0473 between 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. seven days a week. They can assist in making appointments.