Los Angeles County’s declining COVID-19 metrics have met the threshold to move into the less-restrictive, orange tier this week, allowing for more business reopenings beginning Monday.
California Department of Public Health officials released updated metrics Tuesday for the state’s blueprint for reopening, and as L.A. County has met all of the requirements for the orange tier for three straight weeks, it has been given the green light to transition into the orange tier.
During a news conference Tuesday, L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the county is currently working on finalizing details regarding changes to the health officer order, which is expected to be posted Friday and go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday.
The county’s seven-day average test positivity rate has dropped to 1.5%, while its seven-day average case rate is 3.8 per 100,000 residents per day, and its adjusted case rate is 3.1 per 100,000, which is adjusted depending on the county’s testing volume, according to the state data released Tuesday and based on results from the week ending March 20.
Under this tier, capacity restrictions are expected to be lifted for some businesses, such as retail and shopping centers (though food courts are still expected to operate at reduced capacity).
The county plans to align its order with the state’s orange tier guidelines, with additional modifications, Ferrer said, including:
- Restaurants and movie theaters can increase indoor capacity from 25% or 100 people (whichever is fewer) to 50% capacity or 200 people (whichever is fewer).
- Bars are no longer are required to serve food and can resume outdoor operations with modifications, such as limited hours, no counter seating and no live entertainment.
- Wineries, breweries and distilleries can reopen indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people (whichever is fewer), with reservations required and a 90-minute time limit when seated indoors.
- Gyms and fitness centers can increase capacity from 10% to 25% and reopen indoor pools.
- Amusement parks can reopen Thursday at 25% capacity, rather than 15%, or 500 people (whichever is fewer), with reservations or advanced tickets required.
- Outdoor live events, such as live performances and sporting events, can increase capacity to 33% from 20%.
- Places of worship, museums, zoos and aquariums can increase indoor capacity from 25% to 50%.
- Family entertainment centers, including bowling alleys, can resume indoor operations for naturally distanced activities at 25% capacity.
- Card rooms and satellite wagering sites can reopen indoors at 25% capacity, while food and beverages are not allowed at tables.
- Offices in nonessential industries can also reopen, though state public health officials said workers should still be encouraged to work remotely.
- Indoor gatherings are strongly discouraged, but allowed, with a maximum of three households.
The state had previously said counties would be required to remain in each tier for three weeks before moving into a less-restrictive tier, which is why Ferrer said the county is waiting until Monday — the three-week mark – for additional reopenings.
“There is a good reason for us to remain in a tier for three weeks before accelerating into a less-restrictive tier because we need this third week to make sure that we’re not seeing an increase in cases — remember this still is a virus that has a very long incubation period, so this week becomes critical,” Ferrer said. “Our effort is let’s stay here in the three weeks … make sure we’re watching our case numbers this week, and let’s also give every, single business the opportunity to get prepared for the changes that we’re going to be making.”
It should be noted that local governments and public health departments can implement stricter orders than what California imposes, and that counties can and have returned to a more stringent tier when their metrics have worsened for two straight weeks.
“After a year of fear, anxiety and tragic loss, we’re seeing glimmers of hope once more, but this didn’t happen just by accident — this was because of our collective hard work,” county Supervisor Hilda Solis said. “So, while we push to get as many people as possible fully vaccinated and have the finish line of this pandemic in sight, let’s make sure that we finish strong. Let’s enjoy our hard-earned opportunities in the orange tier responsibly. Let’s continue to wear our masks, stay physically distant and avoid large indoor gatherings, if possible.”
County Public Health officials also released the following updated COVID-19 statistics Tuesday, noting the low figures report a lag in holiday reporting:
New COVID-19 cases reported in L.A. County in the past 24 hours: 386
Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 1,218,958
New deaths related to COVID-19 reported: 26
Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 23,110
Hospitalizations countywide: 649; 27% of whom are in the ICU.
Hospitalizations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as of March 30: 4, with 1,191 discharged since the onset of the pandemic.
COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 17, 12 of which came from the city of Santa Clarita.
Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV: 27,118
Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV: 299
Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the city of Santa Clarita as of March 22: 33.4%
Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the SCV as of March 22: 31.8%
The numbers of SCV cases, including all area health care providers’ daily figures and those at Pitchess Detention Center, broken down into region, are as follows:
City of Santa Clarita: 19,898
Unincorporated – Acton: 461
Unincorporated – Agua Dulce: 267
Unincorporated – Bouquet Canyon: 47
Unincorporated – Canyon Country: 824
Unincorporated – Castaic: 3,676 (majority of Castaic cases come from Pitchess Detention Center, exact number unavailable)
Unincorporated – Lake Hughes: 41
Unincorporated – Newhall: 68
Unincorporated – Placerita Canyon: 1
Unincorporated – San Francisquito Canyon/Bouquet Canyon: 15
Unincorporated – Sand Canyon: 17
Unincorporated – Saugus: 128
Unincorporated – Saugus/Canyon Country: 39
Unincorporated – Stevenson Ranch: 1,121
Unincorporated – Val Verde: 331
Unincorporated – Valencia: 184