Los Angeles was among 13 counties approved for less restrictive tiers within California’s reopening framework on Tuesday. The regions have a combined population of more than 17 million residents. L.A. and Orange Counties were among the eight regions progressing to the Orange tier.
Loosening of regulations may take effect as soon as Wednesday or as late as next week, depending on decisions by local health officials, who can be more strict than state health officers. While Orange County officials have already indicated that region will apply the Orange tier guidelines tomorrow, L.A. officials may wait a few days to ensure there is time for businesses to prepare.
Four other counties that were positioned for a possible move missed out.
In all, eight counties advanced from the Red to Orange tier in the state’s reopening Blueprint. Those regions were Alameda, Butte, Colusa, Los Angeles, Modoc, Orange, Santa Cruz and Tuolumne. The move will loosen capacity limits from red-tier restriction levels and also allows a few more types of indoor entertainment businesses to open. Movie theaters, for example, can progress from 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer, to 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer.
Under the Red to Orange tier movement, capacity restrictions are also eased in stores, houses of worship, museums, zoos and aquariums, all of which can raise their indoor capacity from 25% to 50%; restaurants, like theaters, are allowed to boost indoor capacity from 25% to 50%; and indoor gyms and yoga studios may progress from 10% to 25% capacity. Outdoor sports and live performances can also restart on Thursday with 33% capacity for those the Orange tier.
Fresno, Glenn, Kings, Madera and Yuba are Purple-tier counties that graduated into the Red tier. No counties moved to a more restrictive tier. So statewide, this is how it breaks down among CA’s 58 counties: Three counties remain in the Purple tier, 36 in the Red tier, 17 in the Orange (moderate) tier and two are in the Yellow (minimal) tier.
On March 11, the Los Angeles County Public Health department confirmed that the region was moving into the Red tier. That meant movie theaters could open indoors at 25% “with reserved seating only where each group is seated with at least 6 feet of distance in all directions between any other groups.”
But, while many counties could reopen businesses as soon as March 12, L.A released its own operating guidelines, slating the reopenings to begin on March 15. A county must remain in a new tier for 3 weeks before moving on. Thus, it is unclear whether L.A. officials will allow businesses to move into the Orange on Wednesday — three weeks after the state announced the move — or on Monday — three weeks after the County allowed businesses to make the move. Orange County officials were clear on Tuesday when they would apply the less stringent guidelines.
“Tomorrow is the magic day,” when the new tier’s rules can be implemented, Orange County Supervisor Doug Chaffee said. “We are Orange, but it’s the next day that it kicks in. It sounds like a bit of sunshine. It’s great to get out there and get onto the next tier. My goodness, keep up the good work. We don’t want to stop at Orange.”
The move is good news for theme parks. When Universal Studios Hollywood reopens on April 15, it will be able to do so at 25%, instead of 15%. The same is true for Disneyland when it throws open the gates on April 30. Parks will also be able to reopen indoor dining facilities to 25% capacity.
City News Service contributed to this report.
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