County Moves to Less-Restrictive Orange Covid Tier Allowing Reopening of Playgrounds, Gyms & Indoor Dining

Published On October 14, 2020 | By Bay City News Service | Coronavirus, News & Commentary

Alameda County advanced to a less-restrictive orange Covid tier of the state’s coronavirus pandemic reopening system Tuesday. This enables cities within the county like ours to expand the maximum capacity of activities like indoor dining and open bars outside.

Our county moved from Tier 2, the red tier, to Tier 3, the orange tier, by reducing their rate of new cases per 100,000 residents per day below four. They join San Francisco and Santa Clara as the only Bay Area counties in Tier 3.

Our county also had to reduce its test positivity rates under 5% as well as our health equity score, which the state introduced last week, under 5.2%.

orange Covid Tier

Alameda County had been in the red tier since Sept. 22 and had to wait a minimum of three weeks to move into a less restrictive tier, regardless of whether it met the thresholds for the orange tier for two consecutive weeks before then.

“We’ve chosen an approach that we describe as slow and stringent,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary. “We wait for the data to come in, we try to understand how changes in the levels of mixing that’s allowable in communities actually translates into transmission before we do more,” Ghaly said.

In many cases, both counties will be able to expand the maximum capacity of indoor businesses from 25 percent to 50 percent or 200 people, whichever is fewer.

Gyms, fitness centers and hotels will also be allowed to reopen indoor pools, while gyms themselves can increase their capacity from 10 percent to 25 percent of their maximum occupancy.


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Moving into the orange tier also allows multiple sectors like offices, cardrooms, bowling alleys, climbing walls and gyms, wineries and bars, breweries and distilleries at which food is not served to resume operating inside with caps on capacity.

Alameda County Interim Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss echoed Cody’s warning that local progress in fighting the coronavirus can be easily undone.

“Especially with flu season coming, if we see spikes in COVID-19 cases and a rise in hospitalizations, we will take action to limit the spread and protect public health including resuming restrictions if needed,” Moss said in a statement.

Covid-19 cases in Emeryville and our zip code plateaued in mid-August although has seen recent “upticks.” The E’ville Eye publishes weekly data updates on this dedicated page.

The county will now need to remain in the orange tier for at least three weeks before they would be allowed to move into the state’s next “yellow” tier. This tier would allow reopening of city playgrounds, The Oaks Card Club, movie theaters and community centers.

The state announced the reopening of outdoor playgrounds back on September 29th after pushback from state legislators. Alameda County is expected to allow reopening of playgrounds this Friday, October 16th. “We are awaiting for updated county order,” noted City of Emeryville Community Services Director Pedro Jimenez.

Alameda County is also preparing to update the local Health Officer Orders to permit additional activities during the week of October 26. These activities are currently allowed by the State for counties in the Red Tier and will include:

  • Indoor dining up to 25% capacity or less than 100 people, whichever is less
  • Indoor worship services up to 25% capacity or less than 100 people, whichever is less
  • Indoor theaters up to 25% capacity or less than 100 people, whichever is less
  • Expansion of indoor retail and malls at up to 50% of capacity and permitting limited food courts

For a complete list of open and closed businesses, visit acgov.org.

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