LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County officially moved into the state's less-restrictive "red" tier Monday, with the state achieving a milestone of 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in hard-hit communities and prompting an easing of requirements for counties to advance in the economic-reopening blueprint.
Los Angeles County officials said on Twitter Friday that the move out of the "purple" tier and into "red" will be effective at 12:01 a.m. Monday, meaning indoor dining can return and movie theaters and indoor fitness centers can reopen, all at limited capacity.
"We're ready for the red tier on Monday. This means indoor dining, a return to classrooms for all grade levels, and more cultural and athletic facilities reopening," said county Supervisor Kathryn Barger. "With low cases, expanded vaccines, and extensive research, I know we can reopen our communities and economy safely."
Los Angeles County health officials on Thursday announced which businesses the county will allow to reopen when the county moves to the less-restrictive "red" tier on the state's "Blueprint for a Safer Economy."
Newly permitted activities and modified safety protocols in the red tier will include the following:
- Museum, Zoos and Aquariums can open indoors at 25% capacity.
- Gyms, Fitness Centers, Yoga and Dance Studios can open indoors at 10% capacity with masking requirement for all indoor activities.
- Movie Theatres can open indoors at 25% capacity with reserved seating only where each group is seated with at least 6 feet of distance in all directions between any other groups.
- Retail and Personal Care Services can increase capacity to 50% with masking required at all times and for all services.
- Restaurants can open indoors at 25% max capacity under the following conditions: 8 feet distancing between tables; one household per table with a limit of 6 people; the HVAC system is in good working order and has been evaluated, and to the maximum extent possible ventilation has been increased. Outdoor dining can accommodate up to six people per table from 3 different households.
- Indoor Shopping Malls can increase capacity to 50% with common areas remaining closed; food courts can open at 25% capacity adhering to the restaurant guidance for indoor dining.
- Institutes of Higher Education can re-open all permitted activities with required safety modifications except for residential housing which remains under current restrictions for the Spring semester.
- Schools are permitted to re-open for in-person instruction for students in grades 7-12 adhering to all state and county directives.
- Private gatherings can occur indoors with up to 3 separate households, with masking and distancing required at all times. People who are fully vaccinated can gather in small numbers indoors with other people who are fully vaccinated without required masking and distancing.
In regards to restaurants, Public Health said it strongly recommends all employees interacting with customers indoors be provided with additional masking protection (above the currently required face shield over face masks); this can be fit tested N95 masks, KN95 masks, or double masks and a face shield. In addition, Public Health strongly recommended that restaurant employees working indoors are informed about and offered opportunities to be vaccinated.
The cities of Long Beach and Pasadena, which both have their own health department, will also move into the red tier on Monday. Long Beach and Pasadena each released their own lists of permitted reopenings.
Gov. Gavin Newsom confirmed Wednesday that Los Angeles County will be cleared to escape the most restrictive tier of the state's economic-reopening blueprint by Friday, when a goal will be met of administering 2 million COVID-19 vaccines in low-income, hard-hit communities across California.
Under the new guidelines, Los Angeles County would immediately qualify to move to the less-restrictive "red" tier, since it has been under the 10 per 100,000 standard for two weeks. Los Angeles County's new case rate is currently 5.2 per 100,000 residents.
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said it would take 48 hours after the state announces the vaccination threshold is met for the county to officially move into the "red" tier.
The state's "red" tier guidelines allow indoor dining at 25% of capacity, but counties are permitted to impose stricter regulations. The tier also allows indoor fitness centers at 10% of capacity and movie theaters, museums and aquariums at 25%.
CNS contributed to this report.