Alameda and Santa Cruz counties moved into the orange COVID-19 pandemic reopening tier Tuesday, allowing them to increase indoor capacities for already opened businesses and reopen bars outdoors.
The tier change from red to orange will allow both counties to increase indoor capacity from 25 percent to 50 percent for sectors like places of worship, movie theaters and restaurants while gyms and fitness centers will be allowed to raise capacity from 10 percent to 25 percent.
In addition, business sectors like family entertainment centers, cardrooms, offices and wineries will be allowed to resume indoor operations after being limited to opening outdoors or being closed altogether in the red and purple tiers.
Orange is also the most restrictive tier in which bars can operate under any circumstance. Bars will be allowed to reopen outdoors with modifications like distancing between patrons and required masking when not eating or drinking.
A move to the yellow tier would allow the counties to resume indoor operations at bars at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss advised residents to continue following the public health guidance of keeping distance from others and wearing a face covering in public to help the county continue making progress in tamping down the virus.
“Our metrics have improved, but this pandemic is not yet in our rear-view mirror,” Moss said. “Variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating in our county, case rates are rising in other parts of the country and, while nearly a quarter of Alameda County residents aged 16 and older have been fully vaccinated, we aren’t at the levels required for broad community protection or immunity.”
Moss also advised residents to get vaccinated against the virus when they become eligible.
The tier change will also allow outdoor sports stadiums like the Oakland Coliseum and amusement parks like the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk to increase their capacities as of Thursday.
Outdoor arenas can allow 33 percent capacity in the orange tier while amusement parks will be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity.
Five greater Bay Area counties are now in the orange tier, including Alameda and Santa Cruz, with others like Contra Costa County are expected to fall out of the more restrictive red tier as soon as next week.
None of the 11 counties in the greater Bay Area remain in the most restrictive purple tier and only three of the state’s 58 counties remain in purple.