Indoor dining and gyms will be allowed to reopen beginning Wednesday at midnight after San Mateo County moved into the “red” tier of reopening on Tuesday.
The county qualifies for the red tier this week after all three of its metrics have shown declining spread of the virus and little disparity among neighborhoods. State data released on Tuesday shows San Mateo County’s adjusted case rate at 5.6 daily cases per 100,000 people. Its positivity rate is now 2.1 percent.
The changes to local regulations will go into effect Wednesday at midnight, allowing businesses to reopen for indoor service immediately thereafter. The new regulations will allow restaurants to open at 25 percent capacity for dine-in services, and gyms at 10 percent capacity. Also now allowed are indoor movie theaters, museums and churches at 25 percent capacity. Retail can reopen to 50 percent capacity.
The county was set to move to the red tier this week even if its adjusted case rate did not fall below the 7 cases per 100,000 threshold. That’s because the state makes an exception for counties where both the health equity metric and positivity rate are two tiers below the current tier, accelerating the county’s ability to reopen.
In San Mateo County, both the positivity rate and health equity metric have been low enough to qualify for the orange tier for two consecutive weeks. County Health Chief Louise Rogers said at Tuesday’s county Board of Supervisors meeting that the county’s health equity metric, which compares positivity rates across disparate neighborhoods, has been promising.
“It is among the lowest disparities in the Bay Area, and it’s something to applaud,” Rogers said.
On Tuesday, San Mateo County was joined by just one other Bay Area County, Marin County, in moving into the red tier of reopening. More information about local restrictions can be found at www.covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy.
The reopening comes as more than 20 percent of county residents have now been vaccinated against COVID-19 and daily new cases are declining dramatically in the county. But as the virus continues to spread across the county, aided by new variants that may be more transmissible, county health leaders continue to advise social distancing, mask wearing and avoiding large gatherings, even after getting vaccinated.
“What is less well understood is how the vaccines protect against the actual spread of the disease,” Rogers said.