Solano is only Bay Area county remaining in red tier

Newsom shares date for state’s full reopening; three Bay Area counties move to orange tier

Napa County is among three counties expected to reach the orange tier effective Wednesday, enabling wineries and distilleries to host customers indoors without serving meals.
San Francisco Business Times, By Alex Barreira, Apr 6, 2021

After 31 weeks, an end to the tier system is in sight: Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that the state plans to remove most of coronavirus restrictions on June 15 if vaccinations remain widely available and hospitalization of Covid-19 patients remains low.

At that point California would allow restaurants, bars, stores, movie theaters, museums and practically all other businesses statewide to resume operations without capacity limits both indoors and outside, state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly told officials on Tuesday morning. Not everything would return to normal immediately — after June 15 California’s mask mandate will remain in place for the foreseeable future, officials said.

“We’re seeing bright light at the end of the tunnel,” Newsom said at the press conference, cautioning that the state will move “soberly and thoughtfully, guided by the data” to the next stage. “Everything being equal on June 15, we’ll be opening up business as usual.”

“The entire state will move into this phase as a whole. This will not be county-by-county,” Ghaly said in a briefing call with reporters Tuesday, reports the Los Angeles Times.

It’s unclear yet how much power local counties will have at their discretion to impose effective modifications to the “full reopening,” such as caps on capacity at event sizes, as San Francisco in particular has used to enforce a more conservative approach to reopening throughout the pandemic.

Newsom also shared that the state has reached its goal of administering 4 million vaccines to residents of low-income-designated areas throughout the state, activating looser criteria for counties to advance to the next tier.

On top of that news, the state included three Bay Area counties — Napa, Sonoma and Contra Costa — among the 16 across the state moving into less restrictive tiers. In the case of those Bay Area counties, they’re moving from the red “substantial” tier to the orange “moderate” tier, opening nonessential offices, indoor bars, and host limited live entertainment events, among other activities, effective Wednesday.

Solano County is the only county in the Bay Area still on the red tier.  Eight of nine Bay Area counties have now reached the orange tier.

If their case numbers continue to improve, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties would be on pace to become eligible for the yellow tier next week.

Here’s what the orange tier counties can expect under the new tier changes, which would become effective Wednesday morning:

  • Bars that don’t serve food can reopen, but can only seat patrons outdoors. Wineries, distilleries and breweries that don’t serve meals can resume hosting customers indoors.
  • Restaurants and movie theaters can increase their indoor capacity to 50% or 200 people, whichever is fewer. Previously, both establishments were limited to 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever was fewer.
  • Retail stores can open to full indoor capacity as long as social distancing is enforced, up from 50% capacity previously.
  • Indoor gyms can expand from 10% to 25% capacity.
  • Museums and places of worship can move from 25% to 50% indoor capacity.
  • Nonessential offices can reopen, but the state is still encouraging remote work.
  • Amusement parks can open outdoors to 25% capacity for counties in the orange zone, or a maximum 500 people, but only in-state visitors are allowed and tickets must be purchased in advance.

On Friday state officials also loosened restrictions on holding indoor events such as conferences and performances for the first time since early 2020. They introduced a sliding scale for the number of visitors that can attend, and venues can increase capacity if visitors are vaccinated or have recent negative tests for coronavirus.

On the orange tier, indoor venues can host up to 15% capacity, and 35% if guests are vaccinated. For events with over 1,500 people, the orange tier allows 10% capacity and 35% if guests are vaccinated.