Reopening California

What a Move to the Yellow Tier Means for Bars, Gyms and Baseball Fans in LA County

Los Angeles County officially qualified for a move into the yellow tier this week.

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California's most populous county -- once the state's epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic -- will move into the least restrictive tier for reopening in a dramatic turnaround from one year ago.

Los Angeles County on Tuesday qualified for the yellow tier of California's Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The color-coded, four-tier system has guided California's gradual reopening during the pandemic.

Weekly figures released by the state show the county's adjusted rate of daily new COVID-19 infections has dropped to 1.6 per 100,000 residents. The county will officially enter the yellow tier on Wednesday, but loosened health restrictions will not take effect until Thursday.

The yellow tier move allows indoor bars to reopen, larger crowds at Dodger Stadium, and expanded capacity at restaurants, movie theaters, amusement parks, gyms and other establishments.

A new public health order would need to be issued by the county. Here's what it means for business capacities.

  • Fitness centers, cardrooms, wineries and breweries permitted to increase indoor attendance to 50% of capacity, up from the current 25%.
  • Bars would be able to open indoors at 25%.
  • Venues such as Dodger Stadium could increase capacity to 67%, up from the current 33%.
  • Amusement parks could allow 35%, up from 25%.

It’s a remarkable turnaround considering California was the epicenter of the virus outbreak in the U.S. just a few months ago.

LA and San Francisco have weathered the pandemic differently but are emerging in the same place after a statewide shutdown in March 2020 emptied streets, shuttered shops and restaurants, and darkened office buildings.

While San Francisco largely beat the coronavirus by avoiding it, Los Angeles was nearly beaten by it during the winter surge. At its worst point, more than 500 people a day were dying in California and hospitals in the LA area could barely treat the overwhelming influx of patients.

San Francisco reached the least-restrictive yellow tier for a brief period in October, the only urban area to do so, before an alarming surge in cases forced a retreat. LA never emerged from the most restrictive tier until March.

Now, California has the lowest case rate in the country. Los Angeles County, which is home to a quarter of the state’s nearly 40 million people and has endured a disproportionate number of the state’s 60,000 deaths, didn’t record a single COVID-19 death Sunday or Monday.

California COVID-19 Vaccinations

The map tracks the number of doses administered by a recipient's county of residence according to the The California Department of Public Health.

Source: The statewide totals for doses administered reflect Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Otherwise we used data from the California Department of Public Health.
Amy O’Kruk/NBC

Copyright Associated Press
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