San Mateo County moved to the next phase of reopening on Tuesday after reporting reduced COVID-19 case rates for the past two weeks. Improving numbers pave the way for restaurants, gyms and retail to expand indoor operations starting at midnight.
State numbers show the county now reporting 5.6 new cases per 100,000 people, with a 2.8 adjusted case rate. The positivity rate fell to 1.1 percent. The positivity rate in the lowest-income counties sits at 1.9 percent.
Under the orange tier, business operations are expanding across the board. Museums, churches, restaurants and movie theaters can now open to 50 percent capacity indoors, while wineries, breweries and gyms can open to 25 percent capacity indoors. Bars can open outdoors, and indoor retail and malls no longer have capacity limits. Live performances will also be allowed outdoors only, at 33 percent capacity, starting April 1. The changes go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
The changes come as the state has begun to rework its opening rules, now taking into account statewide vaccination totals when considering county moves into new tiers. With more than 2 million people vaccinated in the state’s lowest-income areas, the threshold for moving across purple and red tiers has been lowered. Required case rates for hitting the orange and yellow tiers remain the same until an additional 2 million low-income people are vaccinated statewide.
State officials are also working to provide guidance for a new “green tier” to further reopen for counties reporting the fewest new COVID-19 cases. But the state has yet to release details on what might be allowed under the new tier.
Also last week, County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow lifted a local health order limiting visitation at long-term care facilities. The order had previously mandated that county facilities regulate visitors, but now that around 70 percent of residents 65 and older and around 75 percent of those 75 and older have been vaccinated, the county is now leaving it up to each facility to make its own decisions about opening. The last recorded COVID-19 case at a county long-term care facility was on Feb. 17.