LOS ANGELES - On Tuesday, Los Angeles County became eligible to move into the yellow tier, California’s least restrictive on the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which eases more rules for businesses amid the ongoing pandemic.
The rest of Southern California remains in the orange tier, while some of the most stubborn parts of the state, such as Merced and San Joaquin counties, were in the red tier.
San Francisco, another populous California county, also moved into the yellow tier on Tuesday.
Health officials late last week said California now has the lowest infection rate in the U.S., after being the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic just a few months ago.
For the first time in months, LA County bars that don’t serve food can reopen for indoor seating and all businesses, both indoors and outdoors, will be able to operate with more guests.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors issued the following statement:
"This has been a long and difficult journey and we are so heartened to arrive at this latest milestone. Entering the Yellow Tier means we have reached the next-to-last stage before fully reopening, and this is another welcome sign we are moving toward a safe and healthy new normal, one that is guided by hope rather than fear. This new tier matches the sunny optimism of the season. Now it’s up to all of us to keep up the good work. It’s never been easier to get vaccinated, and that is the single most important action you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your community. Continuing to make smart choices now moves us closer to fully enjoying all the wonderful things that Los Angeles County has to offer."
Under the yellow tier, some of the new modifications for businesses include:
SOCIAL AND INFORMAL GATHERINGS
- Social and informal gatherings can occur outdoors with a maximum of 100 people
- Indoors gatherings remain discouraged, however, can occur with a maximum of 50% capacity where there are capacity limits or up to 50 people
- Events such as receptions, conferences and meetings can occur outdoors with a maximum of 200 guests
- If all guests are tested or show pull of proof of vaccination, outdoor events can have a maximum of 400 guests
- Indoor events can occur with up to 200 people if all guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination
- Can operate at a maximum 35% capacity
INDOOR SEATED LIVE EVENTS
- All venues are limited to in-state guests only and all tickets must be delivered digitally
- No eating or drinking is prohibited and venues must provide a pre-designated eating area that allows for safe social distances
- Suites can have a maximum capacity of up to three households
- Venues up to 1,500 guests can operate at a maximum or 25% capacity or 50% if guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination
- Venues with 1,501 guests and above can operate at 10% capacity of 2,000 people; whichever is fewer or 50% capacity for tested or fully vaccinated guests
HOTELS AND LODGING
- Fitness centers can operate at 50% capacity
- Spa facilities can reopen
Dumbells lie dormant at Gold's Gym Islip on May 13, 2020 in West Islip, New York. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
GYMS AND FITNESS CENTERS
- Gyms and fitness centers can operate indoors at a maximum 50% capacity
- Saunas and steam rooms can reopen
The LA Department of Public Health said the county will officially enter the yellow tier on Thursday, May 6.
Long Beach and Pasadena, which have their own health departments, began operating under yellow tier guidelines on Wednesday, May 5.
If low case rates continue statewide, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he will fully reopen the state's economy on June 15.
'WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS NEWS'
It has been a long, challenging year for businesses all over Los Angeles County, particularly for bars. But with Tuesday's news, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Matt Weaver owns the Bourbon Room in Hollywood and also produced the Broadway hit Rock of Ages, which was playing there when the pandemic hit. The venue was only open for 12 weeks before it had to shut its doors because of the pandemic.
"This is a bar, this is a restaurant, this is a theatre," Weaver said. "There’s not a room like this in all of LA. It’s kind of like an old-school supper club. I think that good products survive, and I think the Bourbon Room and Rock of Ages is a great project and makes people feel really good, brings people together. We were just determined."
The Bourbon Room is set to reopen on Tuesday, June 15, when it can operate at full capacity.
Just blocks away, socially-distanced tables were filled at the sports bar and restaurant 3rd Base.
Owner Drew Gates said he can’t wait to add enough tables to reach full capacity.
"We’ve been waiting for this news for over a year now and it’s finally here. We’re excited about it. We can hire more staff, we can fully open and just operate the way it was supposed to," Gates said.
He hopes that the move to the yellow tier means an end to the stressful unpredictability of the last year.
"The toughest part was not knowing what was going to happen. The journey was very tough because of the unknown," he said. "It feels amazing and knowing the date helps a lot because we can actually plan for this. Before, in previous shutdowns, we didn’t know how long we’d be closed for."
FOX 11's Chelsea Edwards contributed to this story.