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With Los Angeles County nearing red-tier status, officials in Malibu are ready for the city to regain some freedom from the pandemic. Scott Steepleton/Surfside News
Scott Steepleton, Editor
8:57 am PST March 12, 2021

Officials in Malibu are preparing for the county’s move into the Blueprint for a Safer Economy’s less-restrictive red tier, a change that signals relaxed standards for a wide range of business sectors.

Since the pandemic was identified a year ago, Malibu has seen 378 cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths.

Beaches have been crowded at times, shoppers and diners have been making the best of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s most-restrictive purple tier mandates and business owners have dealt with a roller coaster of restrictions because of those mandates.

Personal responsibility, it appears, has carried Malibu through a trying time better than other places.

According to the Los Angeles County Public Health Department, additional reopenings are set to happen March 15-17, but the exact date is tied to 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses being given to people in what authorities call “the most under-resourced communities.”

Once that happens and the county Board of Supervisors votes on the changes that come with moving from purple to red, the city is ready.

“When the county changes from the purple tier to the red tier, the City Council does not need to do anything,” Susan Duenas, Malibu’s public safety manager, told Surfside News.

“Since we don’t have our own public health department, the city simply aligns with the county Health Order.”

Under the red tier, restaurants can open indoors at 25 percent capacity with these conditions: 8 feet distancing between tables; one household per table with a limit of six people; the HVAC system is in good working order and has been evaluated, and to the maximum extent possible ventilation has been increased.

Officials recommend all restaurant employees interacting with customers indoors be provided with fit-tested N95 masks, KN95 masks or double masks and a face shield — protection beyond the existing face-shield-over-face-mask requirement.

County officials also recommend that all restaurant employees working indoors “are informed about and offered opportunities to be vaccinated.”

Outdoor diners can sit six per table from three households.

Other red tier changes that will affect Malibu include:

  • Gyms, fitness centers, yoga and dance studios can open indoors at 10 percent capacity with masks required for all indoor activities;

  • Retail and personal care services can increase capacity to 50 percent with masks required at all times;

  • 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;”

The government says private gatherings indoors can occur with up to three households, as long as people wear masks and social distance at all times.

Those fully vaccinated can gather in “small numbers” without masks or social distancing.

Schools will be permitted to re-open for in-person instruction for students in grades 7-12, as long as they adhere to state and county directives.

Talks about Malibu transitioning to red are already happening.

“With respect to a ‘red tier’ document, we don’t have an actual document, but we have started discussions,” said Duenas. “We will be ready to put something out as soon as it is appropriate.”