Alameda County has advanced into the orange tier of the state's COVID-19 reopening blueprint, meaning more businesses and activities will be allowed to reopen or expand capacity effective Wednesday.
The county qualified to move out of the red tier with decreasing COVID-19 case metrics, which stood at an adjusted daily new case rate of 2.6 per 100,000 residents, a testing positivity rate of 1.1% and a health equity quartile positivity rate of 1.9%, according to the Alameda County Public Health Department.
"Our metrics have improved, but this pandemic is not yet in our rear-view mirror," Dr. Nicholas Moss, county health officer, said in a statement. "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."
The orange tier status means operations like indoor dining, movie theaters, places of worship and museums can increase activity to 50% capacity. Gyms, wineries and bowling alleys are among those allowed to rise to 25% indoor capacity.
According to Moss, the county must remain in the orange tier for at least three weeks before moving into the yellow tier, even if its COVID-19 metric ratings might warrant otherwise.
"The key to keeping newly permitted activities open and moving Alameda County closer to the Yellow Tier is to continue practicing the safety measures we know work against COVID-19: wearing masks whenever we leave home (even if fully vaccinated), watching our distance, washing our hands frequently, and limiting mixing with people from different households. When it is your turn, get vaccinated with the first vaccine made available to you," he said.
So far, Alameda County has been following the state's COVID-19 vaccine eligibility system, which means that effective Thursday access will open up to all residents 50 years and older (and expansion from the previous level of 65-plus).
Also currently eligible are residents 16 and older deemed at high risk due to complex health conditions, homeless individuals, people who live in large facilities in close quarters with risk of transmission such as jails, and workers in essential jobs such as health care, food, education, emergency services, child care and public transportation.
The state is scheduled to open vaccinations to all residents 16 years old and older effective April 15, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom.
According to ACPHD, the changes for businesses and activities allowable in the orange tier include:
* Bars: Outdoors with modifications, no meals required to be served.
* Breweries, distilleries and wineries: Indoors at 25% maximum capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer; No meals required to be served.
* Family entertainment centers: Indoors for naturally distanced activities like bowling, escape rooms and billiards; 25% maximum capacity.
* Gyms, fitness centers and studios (including at hotels): 25% maximum capacity and indoor pools are permitted; indoor hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms continue to be closed.
* Movie theaters: 50% maximum capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer.
* Museums, zoos and aquariums: 50% maximum capacity.
* Offices: Indoors with modifications and remote work (telework) is strongly encouraged.
* Places of worship: 50% maximum capacity.
* Restaurants: 50% maximum capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer.
* Retail: Open indoors with modifications and food courts permitted with indoor dining restrictions.
Activities eligible to start on Thursday include:
* Outdoor sports, including high school, and live performances with fans/attendees at 33% capacity for in-state spectators only with no concourse concession sales (primarily in-seat allowed).
* Amusement parks: Overall park capacity and indoor capacity limited to 25%, including indoor dining.