The Travel Forecast

January 28, 2021

Governor Lifts Stay-at-Home Order for Most of the State; Santa Cruz County Returns to Purple Tier

Citing improvement in ICU numbers statewide, Governor Newsom lifted California’s stay-at-home order on Monday, which was first announced on December 3rd in an effort to reduce the strain on hospitals as case numbers surged. The lift affects the Bay Area, southern California, and the San Joaquin Valley which in total represent 90 percent of the state’s population. The Bay Area region which includes Santa Cruz County is currently reporting a little more than a 23 percent ICU capacity. The lifting of the stay-at-home order returns to restrictions under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, with Santa Cruz County in the Purple Tier – as are most of California’s counties. Here is what the revised order means for local businesses:

Restaurants in particular have been hard hit by COVID-19 restrictions. Sunday evening, the California Restaurant Association was notified that the SIP order was going to be lifted. That move will enable local restaurants to operate under the Purple Tier by immediately resuming outdoor dining service. California is the largest state restaurant market. Wineries and tasting rooms can operate outdoor only with modifications while bars, breweries, and distilleries are still closed.

Although the stay-at-home order has been lifted, the state’s travel advisory is still in place. Hotels are open to essential and nonessential travel. However, Californians should avoid non-essential travel to any part of California more than 120 miles from one’s place of residence, or to other states or countries. A 10-day self-quarantine following arrival to California from out of state or out of the country is still mandated.  

Retail Shops:
Retail shops can open with modifications at a 25 percent capacity. 

The regional stay-at-home order is lifted when a region’s ICU capacity falls below 15 percent.  The Bay Area is currently at 25 percent capacity. Community transmission rates, regional case rates, and the proportion of cases admitted to the ICU are other factors which affect the stay-at-home order. Currently, 54 counties are in the Purple Tier, three counties are in the Red Tier, and one county is in the Orange Tier. There are 27,000 cases of COVID in California with a seven day average of eight percent and a 9.4 percent two-week average. The state has also seen a 20 percent decrease in hospitalizations due to COVID. 

The governor reported that California has tripled and sustained the pace of administering the COVID vaccine to residents based on a distribution plan. There is a strategy to transition to an age-based eligibility allowing the state to get vaccines to disproportionately impacted communities. But for now, the vaccines are being distributed on a tiered basis.   

Evacuation Orders Issued as Santa Cruz County Braces for Debris Flow

Following high surf, an unseasonably warm three-day weekend, and strong windstorms accompanied by a loss of power and wildfires affecting residents in parts of the San Lorenzo Valley, Aptos, and Watsonville, officials are keeping a close eye on the next weather-related activity that will no doubt affect locals and businesses. The aftermath of the CZU August Fire last August and September is playing a critical role in an evacuation order which was issued earlier this week.  VSCC is working with the lodging industry to gather information and displaced residents can receive information on Santa Cruz County hotels which are accepting locals who need shelter at this link. Steve Allen from the Capitola Venetian Hotel and the Rio Sands Hotel and Sara Clevenger from Beach House Rentals appeared on KION in an interview about how the local lodging industry is helping evacuees.

During a press conference on Tuesday, the County of Santa Cruz and CalFire announced that CalFire evacuation orders were in effect for the north coast and parts of the San Lorenzo Valley including Boulder Creek and Felton based on strong winds and heavy rain which are expected for the next several days. Temporary evacuation centers are now open at San Lorenzo Valley High School, Scotts Valley Community Center, and Pacific Elementary School in Davenport. While these are not intended to be shelters, displaced residents can receive information, refreshments, pet food, restrooms, charging stations, and more at these locations.   

A call center has been established where residents can obtain information at 831.454.2181. Road closure information for county roads excluding state highways like Highway 9 can be found at

Weather forecasters are anticipating that the Santa Cruz area will receive between eight and 12 inches of rain throughout the storm. Of particular concern is the burn area from last year’s fires, as the ground is unable to absorb water efficiently.  Combined with expected heavy winds, the region may also face power outages. To assist residents in affected areas, the County of Santa Cruz has updated and refined its debris flow evacuation zone maps. Residents living in and near the CZU Lightning Complex burn scar are urged to review their debris flow evacuation zones to see whether they remain in potential debris flow evacuation zones. 

Regardless of their risk level, all residents should sign up for emergency alerts here or text “SCR911” to 99411 to register. A CodeRed app and updates are also available for smartphones. In advance of impacts from the rains, residents are also advised to tune in to local news, utilize weather radios or follow the County of Santa Cruz on social media to stay up-to-date on the latest information.

2021 Visit California Virtual Outlook Forum Announced

This year, Visit California’s annual Outlook Forum conference will be completely virtual:  and will focus on recovery efforts in the tourism industry. To minimize screen fatigue, this year’s event will take place on Thursday, February 18, and Friday, February 19 from 10AM to 1PM both days and registration is free. Here’s what is in store during Outlook Forum 2021. 

Focusing on four different themes, the conference will feature more than 40 tourism CEOs, researchers, and thought leaders sharing their experiences and best practices. The four content tracks include: Innovate, Disrupt, Rebuild, and Future Forward. Designed to share information and insights, these content tracks are designed to accelerate the travel and hospitality industry’s recovery.

The conference will begin on Thursday morning with a presentation to all attendees from Caroline Beteta, President and CEO of Visit California entitled Respond, Rebuild, Recover: What’s Ahead for California Tourism. Caroline will share how Visit California is responding to the severe challenges facing the Golden State and how the industry can work together to shorten the projected recovery timeline. She will also debut the world premiere of Visit California’s spring ad campaign.

The Innovate module will offer topics such as Dream with Us: How to Create Effective Web Stories, Wildfire Season Prevention, Preparation, and Communication, Balancing Visitors and Residents in a Post-Covid World, and Stronger Together: Visit California Co-op Workshop.

The Disrupt option includes presentations on Rewire to Rebuild Your Customer Relationships, Harness the Power of Online Reviews, Give Voice to Communities Through Culinary Storytelling, and 2021 Trends in Destination Storytelling. 

The Rebuild workshop will focus on The Road Map to International Recovery, What’s Ahead for the U.S. Economy, and The New Consumer: Navigating Emerging Spending Trends.

The Future Forward track will explore what is next for accommodations, airlines, transportation, and restaurants.

Click here to see the conference schedule at a glance

ERC County Blueprint Status Report

The weekly County Blueprint Status Report related to COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County is available for the week of January 26th in English and Spanish. These updates are provided by the Economic Recovery Council of Santa Cruz County (ERC). Information from the ERC aligns with state and county health officials, Governor Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency, and SAVE Lives Santa Cruz County.   

A Slice of the Safety Pledge!

Look who took the Safety Pledge! The staff at Upper Crust Pizza and Pasta are reminding locals and visitors that practicing safe persona protocols is paramount to keeping our community healthy and restarting our Santa Cruz County economy. Let us give you a shout out by sending us a snap of your staff and employees taking the Safety Pledge, part of VSCC’s Let’s Cruz Safely campaign so that VSCC can feature your business on our social media channels! 

Clean + Safe Kudos!

Congratulations to the Seascape Beach Resort and Hotel Solares which received Clean + Safe certification from the California Hotel & Lodging Association (CHLA). As a reminder: all lodging properties are members of CHLA and have the capacity to become certified as a benefit of their membership. Find out how your property can become Clean + Safe certified here!  

Take the ERC COVID Survey

The Economic Recovery Council has released a brief survey to find out how local businesses have been affected by COVID. Results of the survey will help inform local organizations about the economic impact of COVID as well as resources needed by small businesses to remain open as the pandemic continues. Results are anonymous, and the survey deadline is Friday, February 12th. Click here to take the survey!

Did you know……

that mobile COVID testing is now available for businesses? CruzMedMo, a mobile urgent care service will begin rapid testing on the go and can come to your location. Test results are available in 24 hours or less. This mobile resource joins multiple sites around the county for easy access to testing.

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