California state officials approved moving San Mateo County into the state's least-restrictive COVID-19 tier on Tuesday, allowing for more freedom of movement and larger gatherings just before summer begins.
The new designation allows fully vaccinated people to go without face coverings outdoors at gatherings, except at large or crowded events. It also allows expanded indoor capacity at restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, businesses and many other operations. Bars that don't serve food can reopen indoors with a maximum capacity of 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer, according to the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
The guidelines take effect on Wednesday, May 12, at 12:01 a.m. San Mateo and San Francisco are the only two counties in the Bay Area currently in the yellow tier. It's the first time San Mateo County has been in this tier since the state announced the color-coded Blueprint last summer, the county noted in a statement. The looser restrictions come six weeks before Gov. Gavin Newsom has said the entire state may fully reopen on June 15.
Board of Supervisors President David Canepa lauded the achievement.
“We have come so far in the last year thanks to the vigilance of our community in continuing to wear masks and rolling up their sleeves for a vaccine when they have the opportunity. But we still have work to do to fully open up our economy while keeping ourselves and loved ones protected from this virus. Continue practicing safe steps, make sure to get your vaccine and help your friends and loved ones get theirs, too. We are nearing the end of this pandemic and there will be cause to celebrate once June 15 comes and the entire state reopens for business,” he said in a separate statement.
The guidelines allow county parks to double the number of people who can gather at reserved picnic sites to 100. Group campsites will stay closed but camping reservations are available at Memorial Park for people from the same household, the county said.
Among the other yellow-tier guidelines, outdoor gatherings are expanded to 100 people or fewer; indoor gatherings are strongly discouraged but are allowed with modifications and a maximum 50% of capacity limits; private events can have an outdoor maximum of 200 people. If all guests are tested or show proof of vaccination, the total rises to 400 people. Indoors, up to 200 people are allowed if all guests are tested or fully vaccinated. Sports and live performances may have as much as 67% of capacity. Only California residents are allowed at these events and at amusement parks.
For a complete list of what's open under the yellow tier, visit www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs.