Los Angeles County officially moves into the orange tier

On Monday, Los Angeles County moved from the red tier into the orange tier of the state's monitoring system.

Officials say the orange tier changes went into effect on April 5 at 12:01 a.m.

That means movie theaters, restaurants, churches, museums, zoos and aquariums can go from 25% to 50% of capacity, while gyms will be increased from 10% to 25%.

Cardrooms and family entertainment centers can resume indoor operations at 25% of capacity.

Los Angeles and Orange Counties have met the criteria to move into the less restrictive "orange tier" in California's Blueprint for a Safer Economy, allowing a loosening of business capacity limits and the reopening of bars for outdoor service.

RELATED: LA, Orange County businesses cleared for more reopenings; criteria met to move into Orange Tier

Qualifying for the orange tier requires a county to have an average daily rate of new COVID infections of 3.9 per 100,000 residents, along with a testing-positivity rate of 4.9% or less, and maintain those levels for two consecutive weeks.

Click here for a full list of changes between the red and orange tiers.

The county will still enforce certain rules that are more strict than what the state allows. Most notably, bars that don't serve food -- which are being permitted to reopen outdoors only -- will only be able to operate from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., with a required 8-foot distance between outdoor tables.  

RELATED: Southern California Vaccine Finder: Where to get your COVID-19 shot

And although state guidelines allow lifting of all capacity restrictions on retail establishments in the orange tier, Los Angeles County will impose a 75% limit for grocery stores and other retail operations, while "strongly" recommending they remain at 50% of capacity until April 15 to allow time for more workers to get vaccinated.  

The county's metrics continued to trend in the right direction Sunday, as 535 new cases of COVID-19 and just three additional deaths were reported, although health officials said the lower number of deaths may reflect reporting delays over the weekend.    

Amid declining overall COVID-19 numbers, county health officials continue to urge residents to take precautions, acknowledging what could be seen as mixed messaging about the state of the pandemic.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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