State pumps brakes on partial reopening in Marin County

An abrupt about-face for businesses partially reopening in Marin County left businesses like Three Sisters Nail Salon in San Rafael scrambling to make it all work.

"We've been told we get 25 percent working inside, and the rest have to work outside," said Lily Nguyen, who operates the nail salon with her sisters.

But shops that expected to partially reopen indoors on Tuesday, couldn't.

"So a lot of work, changing back and forth, trying to prepare inside and prepare setting up outside, everyday, it makes it very hard," Nguyen said.

Laine Hendricks, Marin County spokeswoman said she shares in the frustration.

"It's excruciating, honestly, to have to be the bearer of this bad news," Hendricks said.

Hendricks said it was only Monday night that state health officials reversed course and said they were keeping Marin County in "Tier 1" or purple status, the most restrictive, instead of moving to "Tier 2," or red, like originally planned.

"The state applied a new methodology that changed the way these scores for lack of a better word, are calculated," Hendricks said.

One factor: Marin County has one of the highest testing rates per capita for COVID-19 in the state.

So this means any non-essential, indoor operations are still off limits for businesses like restaurants, gyms, theaters and personal care services.

Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County's public health officer, knows full well the danger of the coronavirus. He tested positive but has since recovered. Still, he said he doesn't want any more surprises.

"It would be very helpful for us to see what they see so that we can be on the same page and anticipate changes like this," Willis said. "It's really unfortunate when it comes at the 23rd hour."

And when it comes during a heat wave, said Nguyen, noting it was challenging for her customers to wait outside in the sun.

Customer Carolyn Sabaca said she respects the state's decision.

"They've got to do what's safe for all of us," Sabaca said. "I'm a senior, and I've been very careful with the pandemic going on, that i'm not taking any chances.