Hanford's Thursday Night Marketplace, file photo.
Written by Breanna Hardy
For the first time since late 2020, Fresno, Madera and Kings Counties have moved out of the purple tier for the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
Tulare County has already been in the red tier for two weeks, and remains there as of the Tuesday update from the state.
Red tier allows for limited indoor operations for businesses such as restaurants, gyms and movie theaters.
Amory Marple, president and CEO of the Hanford Chamber of Commerce, is looking forward to bringing back public events to Hanford.
“It’s going to be a huge deal. It opens an avenue for more hours, more jobs — businesses can keep from closing,” Marple said.
Kings County has only been in the red tier once since the pandemic started, lasting just one month. Marple said the county hopes to stay in the red tier and advance to the orange (moderate) tier.
“This time around we have a better chance of moving into moderate with the vaccine coming out,” she said.
The Hanford Chamber of Commerce is once again adding to its event calendar. Starting in late April, it will offer networking mixers for business owners to connect — a key benefit of joining the chamber.
It will be a welcome change of pace from virtual events, especially for nonprofits such as local chambers of commerce, she said.
Also in April, the City of Hanford is introducing taco truck nights on the Civic Lawn. The city has invited taco trucks of any kind to join the event on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
In May, Mainstreet Hanford will bring back Thursday Night Market Place, which has been limited to selling just produce during the pandemic. Bringing it back to its full extent allows for businesses to sell alongside produce sellers.
Effective immediately under the red tier, restaurants may allow dining indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people — whichever is fewer. Retailers can increase capacity from 25% to 50%. Movie theaters can open indoors with a maximum audience of 100 people or 25% — whichever is fewer.
The state has shifted the guidelines to make it easier to enter the red tier depending on vaccine rates.
Dr. Rais Vohra, interim health officer for the Fresno County Department of Public Health, has warned that people should remain cautious and not let its guard down. Coronavirus variants circulating across the state make declining case rates unpredictable, and in some states, cases are rising. The county is working toward testing 1% of its positive Covid-19 test results for variants. Fresno County has confirmed circulation of both the U.K. and the West Coast variants in the community.
Madera County reported an incidence of the U.K. variant as well.
As last week, Fresno, Kings and Madera counties were three out of eight counties left in purple tier. The majority of California counties are now in the red tier.
Central Valley health officials remind the public that social distancing, masking and hand washing by themselves are not enough to guarantee the slow of the spread. The precautionary measures are meant to work in conjunction with each other.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Marple said.