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Restrictions Are Relaxed, COVID Concerns Remain
Riverbank has returned to the ‘Purple Tier’ in the state’s COVID-19 blueprint, with the regional stay at home order rescinded on Monday, Jan. 25 and giving business owners and residents some hope that the region is on the long road back to normalcy. News File Photo

Although California’s regional stay-at-home order was lifted on Monday, Jan. 25 the impact on local schools, including students, teachers and sports programs, remained shrouded in mystery following the rescinding of the order by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

With the announcement, what were regional standards for dealing with the situation now revert to the colored county-by-county tiered structure set up by the California Department of Public Health.

For Stanislaus County and the rest of the San Joaquin Valley region, that means a return to the ‘widespread’ or ‘purple’ tier, which does allow for re-opening of a variety of businesses but with modifications. The Regional Stay-At-Home Order, officials noted, was lifted in the San Joaquin Valley region due to the fact that the ICU capacity is projected to be at 15 percent in four weeks. The Limited Stay At-Home Order curfew also ended.

County officials said the lifting of the order will allow some businesses to reopen after being closed since Dec. 5, 2020. Officials noted that a return to the Purple Tier will likely drastically improve the local economy.

As part of the Purple Tier in the state’s ‘blueprint’ the following businesses will be able to operate with the following restrictions:

Family entertainment centers: Outdoors only with modifications

Gyms and fitness centers: Outdoors only with modifications

Hair Salons and Barber Shops: Indoors with modifications

Movie theaters: Outdoors only with modifications

Museums, zoos and aquariums: Outdoors only with modifications

Personal Care Services: Open indoors with modifications

Places of worship: Outdoors only with modifications

Retail: Open indoors with a maximum of 25 percent occupancy

Restaurants: Outdoors only with modifications

Shopping centers: Open indoors with a maximum of 25 percent occupancy.

Figures from Stanislaus County, meanwhile, show 44,852 positive coronavirus cases reported in the county with 803 deaths as of 3 p.m. on Tuesday Jan. 26. There have been 40,773 recovered cases.

To move back into the next least restrictive ‘red’ tier, residents can help by slowing the spread and following the Health Orders and guidelines: wear a mask, wash your hands regularly, practice physical distancing, be tested, and limit mixing with people outside your household. For additional information about the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, Industry Guidance, or to find out what is open, visit

Meanwhile, for Riverbank student-athletes, a return to the playing courts and fields was uncertain based on the purple tier status, though the CIF, California Interscholastic Federation, was due to outline its plans for the rest of the school year on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

CIF is the governing body for high school athletics in the state.

It was reported on Monday that the Sac-Joaquin Section held its first five-way cross country meet between schools in the Sacramento and foothill areas. The five schools sent about 90 runners, both boys and girls, to the first high school competition since the COVID pandemic caused school closures, back in March 2020. They were reportedly able to keep their social distance while running.

There has been no word yet on the status of the resumption of sports at Riverbank High School.

As for the local tennis team, Bruin coach Bruce Edwards admitted that he is feeling discouraged. In the recent past, the RHS teams have done well in league and section seasons. Without knowing yet whether there will actually be a season this year, Edwards worries, that, if not, it will take as much as four seasons (years) to build the squads back up to where they were before last season was lost to COVID almost a year ago.

“Each year, I rely on the experienced players to help teach the new ones how to play at the beginning,” Edwards explained. “And last year, we expected to do well in the Trans-Valley League, especially in the boys number one spot.”

But the mid-March shutdown – originally expected to be about three weeks in duration – continued through the end of the school year, and no spring sports were played.

“It looks like we will have to be starting from scratch,” Edwards said, about this or next season. “Even if there is a tennis season this year, without classes in session, I worry that some players won’t be able to get to practices.”

He noted that many of his team members in the past have ridden the bus to school each day, with parents picking them up after practices.

Without the students on campus through the day, Edwards says parents may not be able to bring them to campus after class time to practice, since they might be working then, or taking care of other, younger, family members.


News Editor Marg Jackson contributed to this story.