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Ventura, Santa Barbara Counties See More Reopenings With Counties Now In Red Tier

Tuesday is the first full day Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties are in the “red” COVID-19 tier, which has allowed a number of new openings and reopenings, like indoor dining in restaurants.

People flocked to downtown Ventura. Restaurants and bars were busy by early afternoon, with many people combining the freedom to finally dine inside with St. Patrick’s Day.

Cassidy Hill works at Finney’s Crafthouse and Kitchen, a locally owned restaurant and bar.  She says people are excited to be out, but admits it still feels a little strange.  But, Hill says it’s better than last year, when they were completely closed by the pandemic.

There was a festive mood among many people sitting outside on some of the street patios set up in downtown Ventura.  Some said they already had their COVID-19 shots, and wanted to celebrate.  People walking up and down California Street were wearing masks.  Some of the busiest restaurants had lines outside, limiting the number inside to insure social distancing.  

Ventura County Public Health officials say while COVID-19 conditions continue to improve, people need to still take precautions like wearing masks and social distancing.  County Public Health Director Dr. Rigoberto Vargas says while things are opening up a bit, people can’t let down their guard because it's St. Patrick's Day.

Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties will have to stay in the red tier for at least three weeks, and show even more improvement before they can move to the Orange tier, which would allow even more reopening capacity.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.