COVID-19 Update: Personal Care Services, Theme Parks, Sporting Events

This week, state public health officials released new guidance for the operation of theme parks and outdoor stadiums, along with updates to the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) news release on October 20 also noted that all personal care services would be allowed to operate indoors with modifications, even in Tier 1 (purple) counties where the COVID-19 virus is deemed to be widespread because there are more than 7 daily new cases per 100,000 people and the seven-day average of positive COVID-19 tests is greater than 8%.

Personal care services include esthetic, skin care, electrology, body art professionals, tattoo parlors, piercing shops and massage therapy.

State health officials describe California’s statewide average COVID-19 case rate as encouraging but point to spikes in some parts of the state and elsewhere in the nation as cause for Californians to remain cautious and not let their guard down.

This week, Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services Agency secretary, cited forecasts that hospitalizations could increase 46% in a month. The forecast is based on an ensemble of external models, all available at

County Shifts

The updated Blueprint for a Safer Economy shows that as of October 20:

• 12 of the 58 California counties remain in Tier 1 (purple/widespread).

• 23 are in Tier 2 (red/substantial virus presence—4–7 daily new cases per 100,000 people; 5%–8% positive tests; 5.3%–8% positive tests in the health equity quartile).

• 14 are in Tier 3 (orange/moderate virus presence—1–3.9 daily new cases per 100,000 people; 2%–4.9% positive tests; 2.2%–5.2% health equity quartile positive tests).

• 9 counties—including San Francisco—are in Tier 4 (yellow/minimal virus presence—less than 1 new daily case per 100,000 people; less than 2% positive tests; and less than 2.2% health equity quartile positive tests).

More information on the health equity requirement, which went into effect earlier this month, is available on the Blueprint for a Safer Economy: Equity Focus page.

Theme Parks

The CDPH guidance calls for smaller theme parks (those with an overall capacity of fewer than 15,000) to resume limited operations if located in a Tier 3 (orange/moderate) county. Capacity is to be limited to 25% or 500 people, whichever is fewer. Ticket sales must be limited to people living in the same county as the theme park.

All theme parks may resume operation at 25% capacity when the county is in Tier 4 (yellow/minimal).

Among other requirements, the use of face coverings is mandated throughout the park in all settings unless the person is actively eating or drinking in a designated dining area.

Sporting Events

For live professional sporting events at outdoor stadiums and racetracks, the CDPH guidance states that outdoor operations may resume when the county is in Tier 3 (orange/moderate). Capacity is limited to 20%.

When the county moves to Tier 4 (yellow/minimal), capacity is limited to 25%.

Ticket sales must be limited to customers traveling within a 120-mile radius. The guidance applies only to professional sports and does not apply to youth or adult recreational, amateur, semi-pro, or collegiate sporting competitions.

Outdoor stadium operators are required to take steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, including mandating the use of face coverings throughout the stadium unless the person is actively eating or drinking in an assigned seat.

For more information, visit the state’s COVID-19 web page at