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San Diego County: "Orange" You Glad!


Last updated 4/16/2021 at 9:41am

Changes are being made – Normalcy is knocking!

It was announced that San Diego County has taken another step in the right direction, moving to the less restrictive orange tier effective April 7. In the orange tier, more businesses can reopen at a larger capacity.

The move into the Orange Tier in the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy after its case rate has been under six cases per every 100,000 residents for the last two weeks.

The county moved into the red tier on March 17, after being in the purple for months. This was a big win for San Diego County, as it allowed more businesses to finally reopen and resume indoor operations.

The shift to the orange tier in the state’s reopening blueprint means:

- Restaurants: capacity increases to a maximum of 50% or 200 people, whichever is fewer (outdoor and indoor dining continues)

- Wineries, Breweries, Distilleries: indoor service can resume, with COVID safety modifications, including 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer (and the rule about NOT having to serve food at these businesses continues)

- Bars (without food service): can reopen outdoors with safety modifications

Museums, Zoos, Aquariums: capacity on indoor activities can increase to 50% (this was at 25% under the red tier rules)

- Movie Theaters: indoor capacity increases to a max of 50% or 200 people, whichever is fewer

- Family Entertainment Centers & Bowling Alleys: indoor service can resume, with COVID safety modifications, at 25% capacity – or at 50% if guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination, per the California Department of Public Health

- Amusement Parks: capacity increases to a max of 25% (up from 15% under the red tier), with in-state visitors only

- Outdoor Live Events with Assigned Seats (sports and live performances): capacity can increase to 33%; in-state visitors only and primarily in-seat concessions

In addition to the move to the orange tier, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a plan to fully reopen the state by June 15, if the state reaches two important benchmarks.

- If vaccine supply is sufficient for Californians 16 years and older who wish to be inoculated

- If hospitalization rates are stable and low

However, he added that the mask mandate will not be lifted at this time.

San Diego County District 5 Supervisor said, “We continue to make progress and I’m glad to see the State focus on the need to get our economy back up and running!”

The details of what Governor Newsom means by “fully open” means is not crystal clear. The June 15 projected reopen date could also be adjusted as time goes on. It was noted that it was chosen for being two months after COVID-19 vaccines are made available to all Californians aged 16 and over.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said the date (June 15) was chosen for being two months after COVID-19 vaccines are made available to all Californians aged 16 and over.

It was also announced California would end the four-tier, color coded system.

“We are announcing that on June 15, we will be moving beyond the blueprint and will be getting rid of the colored tiers,” Governor Newsom said.

The color-coded system is made up of four tiers that was implemented back in August of last year.

The decision to lift all the blueprint requirements comes in response to rising vaccination numbers and continued decreases in all key pandemic – tracking metrics, such as case numbers, positivity rates and hospitalizations.

California had some of the nation’s strictest pandemic rules, becoming the first to institute a statewide stay-at-home order last spring and adopting a complex, color-coded tier system that dictated which businesses could open and at what capacity depending on how widespread the virus was in a county.

The California Department of Public Health will also continue to monitor case rates, hospitalizations and vaccine efficacy, it says, and reserves the right to move the June 15 date if it deems necessary.

The governor’s announcement comes as California surpassed 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered. Four million of those were administered in the state’s hardest hit ZIP Codes, the state says.

It has not been an easy road, as many continue to struggle through this pandemic, but we can only hope that we all come out of this stronger than ever.

“We can now begin planning for our lives post-pandemic,” the governor added later in a press release sent out by his office. “We will need to remain vigilant, and continue the practices that got us here – wearing masks and getting vaccinated – but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter.”

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