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Kern to return to purple tier, under which outdoor dining, hair, nail services can resume

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In this file photo from September 2020, Geron Ford, Jasmain Macon, Pam Farese, Taralyn Hom, Katrina Pacia and Michele Spinella enjoy breakfast at 24th Street Cafe after finishing a 12-hour shift at Adventist Health Bakersfield. 

Kern County returned to the purple tier of the state's reopening plan on Monday after state officials lifted a stay-at-home order, which means local barbershops and hair and nail salons can reopen, and restaurants can resume outdoor dining. 

The Kern County Public Health Department issued a statement late Monday morning saying allowable activities could resume immediately.

The governor in a noon news conference spoke of "a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel," citing data that shows a decline in the virus surge that has gripped the state in recent weeks. A news release from his office said the lifting of the order "allows all counties statewide to return to the rules and framework of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy and color-coded tiers that indicate which activities and businesses are open based on local case rates and test positivity. The majority of the counties are in the strictest, or purple tier."

The lifting of the order also ends the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew that had been in effect. The curfew was not enforced in many areas of the state, including in Kern County.

Some youth sports competitions can also restart, Newsom said.

Newsom and local health officials cautioned the public to continue following precautions to stop the spread of the virus. 

"It is still critical that residents continue to wear masks when they leave their homes, maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet, wash their hands frequently, avoid gatherings and mixing with other households, follow all state issued guidance and get the vaccine when it’s their turn," said Kern County Public Health spokeswoman Michelle Corson.

The state will update tier statuses as it previously did every Tuesday. However, Kern County still has a high level of COVID-19 infection, which could keep it in the purple tier for many weeks to come.

To move from the purple to the red tier, which is less restrictive and allows further reopening of businesses, the county must have a test positivity rate of 8 percent or lower and a seven-day average of daily new COVID-19 cases that is 7 per 100,000 residents or fewer, which comes out to just under 70 new cases a day. However, Kern has been upwards of 500 or more new cases each day in the past week, according to county figures. It had a recent positivity rate of 17 percent, according to a national report from the Department of Health and Human Services.