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Riverside embraces red tier status as case numbers drop throughout the county

One year ago on St. Patrick’s Day, Shelby Worthington rushed to freeze 600 pounds of corned beef when restaurant doors across the entire state had to close at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Worthington serves as president of the Downtown Riverside Partnership and is the owner of the downtown restaurants Retro Taco, Maki Bomb and The W at Worthington’s. She said although celebrations could not be the same as they were before the pandemic, she hoped patrons would be able to enjoy the holiday safely and with fewer restrictions.

Riverside entered the red from purple tier status yesterday and now restaurants, movie theaters and gyms, among other businesses, can now open indoor activity with some restrictions. The county is now in the “substantial” tier of California’s reopening system with six positive cases per 100,000 people per day.

Riverside business owners hope the city may be inching toward the orange or “moderate” tier which outlines that there only be four per 100,000 cases per day, and requires even fewer limitations.

“We’re taking it light, we don’t want to push the envelope,” Worthington said yesterday afternoon. “I think we’ve seen people walking around, wanting to engage in what the normal St. Patrick’s Day would look like but we’re trying to be very cautious with how much we open the flood gates because we want to open into the next tiers.”

Rex Richey, owner of restaurant The Lobby, said he was able to host a celebration stationed both indoors and outdoors. He said the flexibility of being located where patio seating is available accommodated more customers and staff were still required to use COVID-19 safety precautions.

Worthington said when she had to close her restaurants one year ago, other restaurateurs waited patiently for what they thought would only be a brief hiatus. “Here we are a year later, resilient as a city and a downtown core,” she said.