Alameda county moves into ‘yellow tier’

Alameda County Fire Department employee Max Shih, left, administers the second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Julia Jackson, a volunteer at a Berkeley needle exchange program, at St. Rose hospital in Hayward on Jan. 27, 2021. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

Alameda and Napa counties moved into the yellow tier of the state’s pandemic reopening system Tuesday, one week before the state lifts the tier system completely.

The two counties will be allowed to expand indoor capacities for businesses like restaurants and gyms and outdoor operating capacities for theme parks and large event venues.

Both counties will also be allowed to reopen indoors at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. The tier change and accompanying guidelines will take effect Wednesday.

“The increasing number of residents who are fully vaccinated is directly reducing case rates and helping Alameda County to move into the yellow tier ahead of the June 15 transition,” Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss said in a statement.

With the two counties moving into the yellow tier, eight of the greater Bay Area’s 11 counties are now in the least restrictive tier, with only Solano, Sonoma and Contra Costa counties in the slightly more restrictive orange tier.

The state is expected to lift the tier system, officially called the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, on June 15 as COVID-19 test positivity and case rates have plummeted in recent weeks while upwards of 70 percent of state residents have received at least one vaccine dose.

With the move into the “yellow tier,” businesses like restaurants and gyms can expand indoor capacities (Image via iStock)

State officials have noted that it could be necessary to re-implement some capacity restrictions in the future depending on factors like the proliferation of viral variants and another winter uptick in cases.

For now, however, the state will move beyond the tier system for the first time since introducing it last August.

“While we are moving away from the tier system, only 53 percent of Alameda County residents are fully vaccinated and COVID-19 is still a very real threat to unvaccinated individuals,” Moss said.

“We urge all residents to continue using COVID-19 safety precautions to protect vulnerable residents including young children who are not yet eligible for vaccine.”

All California residents age 12 and up are eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine and are encouraged to contact their local health department or visit https://myturn.ca.gov for information about local vaccination sites.

Full information on the capacities at which businesses can operate in each tier can be found at https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy.

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