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Regional Interests

Contra Costa, Sonoma and Napa Will Move Into the Orange Tier

Three Bay Area counties — Contra Costa, Sonoma and Napa — will enter the orange tier of the state’s reopening plan on Wednesday, according to the California Department of Public Health.

In the orange tier, restaurants, movie theaters and places of worship can operate at a 50% indoor capacity. Outdoor sports and live performances are allowed to operate at 33% capacity. And gyms, amusement parks and wineries can allow up to 25% indoor capacity.

Activities like indoor retail and outdoor bars will have no capacity limitations but will still need to follow several guidelines, like social distancing.

This announcement comes the same day that Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state plans to do away with the color tier system by June 15, as long as hospitalization numbers stay down and vaccine supply can cover expanded eligibility for all those 16 years or older.

Still, officials saw the progress as a positive.

“This is great news for our community,” said Diane Burgis, chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors through a statement. “The last few months have been difficult for everyone and it’s nice to see us make more progress in the fight against COVID,” she added.

All three counties have registered a drop in the number of new cases per day per 100,000 residents, a requirement to transition tiers. Contra Costa averages 4.9 new cases per 100,000 people, while Sonoma stands at 3.6 new cases and Napa at 6.8.

“This is wonderful,” said Yesenia Jiménez, manager of Quetzal Taqueria in Richmond, said in Spanish. “This is going to give us so much more work and we could even finally hire one more person at the restaurant.”

Functioning only at a 25% indoor capacity has barely seen the restaurant through, especially during winter months when few clients wanted to eat outside during windy and rainy days.

The only county in the nine-county Bay Area that remains in the red tier is Solano County, where roughly 8 new infections are reported each day per 100,000 residents.

— Carlos Cabrera-Lomelí

Copyright 2021 KQED