LA County Close To Moving Into Red Tier, Indoor Dining Will Return And Movie Theaters To Reopen – CBS Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Angelenos could very soon have the option of dining indoors or catching a movie in a theater.

Brandi Harrapence, right, enjoys lunch with her daughter Kayla Harrapence inside Firestone Grill in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo, Calif., open for inside dinning for the first time in nearly a year as San Luis Obispo county moved into the red tier on March 3, 2021. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times/Getty Images).

After spending more than six months in the purple and most restrictive tier of the state’s reopening metrics, Los Angeles County is expected to move into the red tier on Monday.

Restaurants will be able to open indoors at 25% capacity under L.A. County’s guidelines, released Thursday. There must be eight feet of distance between tables with a limit of six people per table. Restaurant servers are already required to wear both a face mask and a face shield.

Movie theaters will be allowed to open indoors at 25% capacity. Retail and personal care services will be allowed to increase capacity to 50% with masking required.

Museums, zoos and aquariums can open indoors at 25% capacity. Gyms, fitness centers, yoga and dance studios will be able to open indoors at 10% capacity.

Some business owners were skeptical about the news.

“I’ve learned in this environment not to get too excited about anything,” said Misty Mansouri Thursday, owner of the Lady Byrd Cafe. 

State health leaders also announced Thursday that breweries, wineries and distilleries can reopen outdoors, even if they do not serve food. However, this does not apply to bars in purple and red tiers.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom had confirmed Wednesday that L.A. County could be upgraded to the red tier by Friday, when the state is slated to meet the goal of administering two million COVID-19 vaccines in low-income, hard-hit communities across California.

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said it will take 48 hours after the state announces the vaccination threshold is met for the county to officially move into the red tier. If the goal is met by Friday, the county could advance as early as Sunday or Monday.

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Under a plan announced last week, once the state hits the 2-million-dose milestone in low-income communities, the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” that governs business reopenings will be adjusted, making it easier for counties to advance through the four-tier matrix.

When that mark is met, counties will be able to move out of the most restrictive “purple” tier of the blueprint when their average rate of daily new COVID-19 infections reaches 10 per 100,000 residents — a looser standard than the current 7 per 100,000 residents.

“I would hope they would let us get open as quickly as possible it’s been a really tough roller coaster year people, in general, give us a sense of normalcy,” said Jesse Gomez Thursday, a restaurant owner.

As of Wednesday, the state had administered 1,926,968 doses in hard-hit communities.

“L.A. will be a big beneficiary of this new metric that likely will be met on Friday,” Newsom said Wednesday while speaking in South Gate. “And moving through the weekend and into next week, you will see more activity, more loosening of the tiers.”

The red tier gives permission for counties, if they so choose, to reopen indoor restaurant dining at 25% capacity, fitness centers at 10% capacity and movie theaters and museums at 25% capacity, while also increasing capacity at retail stores and shopping malls.

It also allows theme parks such as Disneyland in Orange County and Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles County to reopen at 15% of capacity, with in-state visitors only.

L.A. County’s current coronavirus case rate currently sits at 5.2 daily cases per 100,000 residents.

Orange County would also qualify to move into the red tier. Its case rate is 6 per 100,000.

Asked Wednesday whether indoor dining will be permitted, Ferrer was non-committal, saying discussions were continuing with the Board of Supervisors and the restaurant sector.

“We’re looking at what is happening across the state, we’re looking at what we’ve learned about what can create as much safety as possible when people are indoors,” she said.

On Tuesday, two members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors – Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger — said they support fully aligning with state guidelines, including indoor dining.

As of last Friday, 2,415,460 doses of COVID vaccine have been administered in L.A. County. That includes 814,593 second doses, representing the number of people who have been fully vaccinated.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)