Contra Costa County is advancing to the orange tier of the state's COVID-19 reopening blueprint, meaning more businesses and activities will be allowed to resume 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 4.9 per 100,000 residents, a testing positivity rate of 1.8% and a health equity metric rate of 3%, according to Contra Costa Health Services.
Contra Costa County has also been helped by the fact nearly 500,000 of its residents have been at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19, officials noted. CCHS opened vaccine eligibility to all residents aged 16 years and older last week.
"This is great news for our community," Supervisor Diane Burgis, chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement Tuesday. "The last few months have been difficult for everyone and it’s nice to see us make more progress in the fight against COVID."
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.
This is the first time Contra Costa County has qualified for the orange tier in five months, according to Dr. Chris Farnitano, county health officer. 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.
Farnitano said local residents should not let their guard down just yet, noting that case rates have plateaued recently, suggesting a possible slowdown in the recovery.
"We are still in a pandemic and people should continue to act accordingly: Keep wearing masks in public and get vaccinated as soon as you can. I still strongly recommend people to avoid most indoor activities with people outside of their own household until they are fully vaccinated," Farnitano said.
People who live or work in Contra Costa County aged 16 and older can request a vaccine appointment at cchealth.org/coronavirus or by calling 833-829-2626. Residents are encouraged to use the online request form to save time.
The expanded eligibility is available only through CCHS, as other health care providers, including the state's MyTurn system, do not currently offer the COVID-19 vaccine to people younger than 50 -- unless they already had eligibility through certain employment or underlying health reasons.
According to CCHS, 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.
* 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.