Santa Cruz County removed from COVID-19 watch list

Santa Cruz County was removed from California's monitoring list on Friday, health officials said. 

Though the county is no longer on the list, no restrictions can be lifted just yet. Officials said counties must be off the monitoring list for 14 consecutive days for changes to be made. 

Local businesses can only reopen by order of the state health officer. Impacted businesses that anticipate resuming operations should prepare by consulting sector-specific guidance. 

"The community should continue taking steps to protect themselves and their community from COVID-19, including avoiding indoor gatherings with those outside your household, maintaining physical distancing, wearing a mask, washing your hands and sneezing/coughing into your elbow," public health officials said a statement. 

If COVID-19 rates increase in the county, it may be added back to the state's watch list.