As coronavirus news goes, this is some of the biggest we’ve had in months – with more than 8 million vaccine doses delivered in Los Angeles County to date (and around three million people now fully vaccinated), local infection rates have fallen to lows not seen for more than a year…and as of today, we are moving into the yellow, or lowest-risk, tier for coronavirus transmission. With this move, the LA County Department of Public Health has issued a new health order, which goes into effect today.
According to the County’s official announcement, the following are now allowed:
- Amusement/Theme Parks/Fairs can increase capacity to 35%. Fully vaccinated out of state visitors are permitted.
- Bars that do not provide meals can operate indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. Masking always required, except when eating or drinking; drinking and eating only while seated. Tables must be at least 6 feet apart and no counter seating/service. Maximum of 6 people from one household per table; if everyone in a group is vaccinated, 6 people can sit together from up to 6 different households. TV viewing is permitted. No live entertainment permitted indoors. Outdoors tables can have a maximum 8 persons per table from up to 3 different households; if everyone in a group is vaccinated, 8 people sit together from up to 8 different households. Live entertainment and TV viewing permitted outdoors. No counter seating/service.
- Breweries, Wineries, Distilleries that do not serve meals can increase indoors capacity to 50% or 200 people, whichever is fewer. No live entertainment permitted indoors. These establishments will follow the same public health directives as bars for their outdoor areas.
- Restaurants can increase capacity for indoor dining to 50% capacity with continued safety modifications. There must be 6 feet distancing between tables. Maximum of 6 people from one household per table; if everyone in a group is vaccinated, 6 people can sit together from up to 6 different households
- Cardrooms/Racetracks/Satellite Wagering Facilities can operate indoors at 50% capacity. There must be 6-feet of distancing between tables and masks are always required. Food and beverages remain banned at the tables.
- Fitness Centers can operate indoors at 50% capacity. Masks are always required unless swimming.
- Movie Theatres can operate at 50% capacity. Reserved seating only where each group is seated with at least 6 feet of distance between any other groups (in all directions); capacity is limited to ensure that there is at least 6 feet of distance between groups. Seating sections can be established for fully vaccinated people without 6 feet distancing requirements provided there is 3 feet of distance between these sections and other seats in the theatre. Eating is allowed in only designated areas or in your reserved seat.
- Family Entertainment Centers can operate at 50% capacity, 75% if all guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination. Masks are required.
- Grocery and Retail Stores capacity remains limited to 75% with continued requirement for distancing of at least 6 feet between customers.
- Hair Salons, Barbershops and Personal Care Services can operate at 75% capacity with masks required, except for services where customers need to remove their masks. For services where customers must remove their face coverings, staff must wear a fitted N95 mask or a face covering with a face shield.
- Museums, Zoos and Aquariums can be open indoors at 75% capacity with safety modifications.Waterparks can operate at 40% capacity with safety modifications.
- Youth and Adult Recreational Sports and Community Sporting Events can apply to Public Health for approval for athletic events, tournaments or competitions that involve more than two teams or multiple individuals. Indoor moderate and high contact sports are permitted following Collegiate Sports Protocols, which includes regular testing.
- Live Event and Performance Indoor venues up to 1,500 guests can operate at a maximum of 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.
- Live Event and Performance Outdoor venues can expand to 67% capacity with safety modifications.
Of course, not all local businesses will re-open or increase capacity immediately (as we’ve seen with previous relaxations, the speed at which various individual businesses can comfortably pivot to the new rules will vary), but we should see many start to shift and re-open and/or increase capacity as soon as they can.
And of course, just because we’ve hit a big new milestone in the pandemic, it doesn’t mean the risk is over and we can fully let our guard down. There were still 287 new cases of COVID-19 reported yesterday in LA County, 21 new deaths, and 400 people still hospitalized with the virus.
So the new health order also urges continued caution, and reminds residents to stay safe and help keep infection rates low, by:
- Staying outdoors as much as possible (outdoor activities are still safer than indoor ones).
- Continuing to wear masks when socializing with others.
- Maintaining at least six feet of social distance.
- Avoiding crowds both indoors and outdoors.
- Getting vaccinated.
Luckily, that last one is getting even easier this week, as the County has removed appointment requirements (at least through May 8) at all LA County-run vaccination sites, so anyone age 16 and older can now just walk in for a free vaccine.