L.A. County Officially Allows Orange Tier Reopenings Today. Here’s What Changes

Bars that don’t serve food can reopen for outdoor service, and more

UPDATE: APRIL 5, 2021 — On Monday, April 5, Los Angeles County officially moves into the Orange Tier of the state’s reopening framework, which dictates that movie theaters and indoor restaurants can operate at up to 50 percent capacity, bars can open for outdoor service, and private gatherings can expand to three households.

The county technically hit its case rate goal last Wednesday, March 31, but local officials decided to postpone the reopenings that accompany Orange Tier status until today, a full three weeks after the last round of reopenings, rather than the two weeks the state requires.

While the stats are still trending in the right direction locally, there’s concern that a hasty return to normal could usher in a COVID-19 spike nationally, right as travel begins to resume.

“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said last week, pleading with Americans to continue to exercise caution.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed a similar concerned: “I think the reason we’re seeing this plateauing and a bit of a little increase that we hope doesn’t turn into a surge is because we are really doing things prematurely right now with regard to opening up.”

Here’s what changes take effect today:

  • Movie theaters can expand capacity to 50 percent or 200 total people, whichever is fewer. Seats must be reserved in advance, and groups must be six feet apart from other groups in all directions. Eating is only allowed while seated.
  • Restaurants can offer indoor service at up to 50 percent capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer.
  • Gyms, fitness centers, and yoga studios allow indoor activity at 25 percent capacity.
  • Wineries, breweries, and distilleries can open indoor service up to 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. For indoor service in L.A. County, reservations remain required, with a max of six people per group and all must be from the same household.
  • Bars that do not serve food can open for outdoor service. Televisions can be on, but live entertainment isn’t allowed.
  • Hair salons and personal care services may increase capacity to 75 percent for services that do not require customers to remove masks. Services that do require customers to remove masks are allowed, but capacity remains limited and staff must wear upgraded mask protection, such as an N95 or mask plus face shield.
  • Family entertainment centers including bowling alleys can open indoors for “naturally distanced activities” at up to 25 percent capacity.
  • Private gatherings of up to three households are allowed. Holding gatherings outdoor is encouraged, but not required.
  • Museums, zoos, and aquariums can open indoor facilities up to 50 percent capacity.
  • Indoor retail stores are allowed to operate with modifications. In L.A. County, indoor retail remains capped at 75 percent; Public Health recommends maintaining a cap of 50 percent until staff are vaccinated.
  • Shopping malls can expand to full capacity and food courts can operate at 50 percent capacity or a total of 200 people, whichever is fewer.
  • Places of worship are allowed to offer indoor services up to 50 percent capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer.
  • Hotels can reopen on-site gyms and fitness centers at 25 percent capacity and reopen indoor pools.
  • Amusement parks can open at up to 25 percent capacity with time limits on indoor attractions, effective April 1. Only in-state visitors are allowed and workers must be tested at least weekly.
  • Some offices can open indoors, if physical modifications are possible, but telework remains preferred.
  • Overnight sleep-away camps can reopen effective June 1.
  • Outdoor live sports and performances with ticketed, assigned seats will be allowed effective April 1. The maximum capacity is 33 percent, 25 percent capacity for luxury suites. Only in-state visitors are allowed.

UPDATE: APRIL 2, 2021 – State public health officials in California have given the green light for indoor concerts, performances, meetings, conferences, and gatherings to resume starting April 15. The indoor events will be allowed in counties that have reached Red Tier higher; L.A. County currently sits at Orange Tier status, one tier better than Red.

Don’t expect to be packing into your favorite club for a big show immediately, however. Venue capacities will still be significantly limited, and attendees may be asked to show proof of either a full vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.

For counties at the Orange Tier level, indoor capacity of of smaller venues (1,500 person or below) will be limited to 15 percent or 200 people, whichever is fewer. That number increases to 35 percent if all attendees present health status verification. For larger venues (1,501 person and above), capacity will be capped at 10 percent or 2,000 people, without health verification or 35 percent with verification.

Venues must also comply with distancing protocols, provide designated areas for any food and drink consumption, require advance ticket sales, and only admit California state residents.

The state opened the possibility of creating “vaccinated” and “unvaccinated” sections where attendees might be able to gather closer together with non-household members in the vaccinated section. All attendees, regardless of health status, must wear masks.

Los Angeles County has yet to confirm if or when it plans to align with the statewide guidelines.

RELATED: California Theme Parks Can Begin Reopening Rides on April 1

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