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LA County Moves Into Red Tier: Indoor Dining Returns, Movie Theaters Reopen

BURBANK (CBSLA) – Los Angeles County officially moved into the state's less-restrictive red tier Monday, allowing for restaurants to resume indoor dining and movie theaters and indoor gyms to reopen.

Burbank Exteriors And Landmarks - 2021
General views of the AMC Burbank 16 in Downtown Burbank. The movie theater will open alongside the AMC Century City 15 to the public for regular screenings on Monday, March 15th for the first time since the COVID-19 'Safer at Home' emergency order was issued by L.A. authorities last March on March 13, 2021 in Burbank, California. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

After spending more than six months in the purple and most restrictive tier of the state's reopening metrics, Los Angeles County qualified Friday to officially move into the red tier beginning Monday.

Orange County also moved into the red tier as well on Sunday.

"We already know that we're gonna go to Gus's BBQ in South Pasadena because we love that place and they've been closed forever!" said Helena Vlahos of Monrovia.

The move out of the red took effect at 12:01 a.m., meaning indoor dining can return and movie theaters and indoor fitness centers can reopen, all at limited capacity.

Restaurants will be able to open indoors at 25% capacity under L.A. County's guidelines, released last week. There must be eight feet of distance between tables with a limit of six people per table. Only members of the same household can sit together. Restaurant servers are already required to wear both a face mask and a face shield.

"It's really cold outside, and to be able to come inside, it'll open up our opportunity to serve more people," Chef George Marin with Burbank's Great Grill told CBSLA Friday.

Martin has fought to hang on, with three of the four other businesses on his block shutting down.

"We're hurting, but we're still here and we love our customers, so to have a few come in is a great start, and hopefully by spring or summer we're getting back to normal again," Martin said.

Movie theaters, meanwhile, will be allowed to open indoors at 25% capacity. It will be the first time that movie theaters are back open since they all shuttered when the pandemic took hold in March of 2020, crippling the movie industry in the process.

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.

Retail and personal care services will be allowed to increase capacity to 50% with masking required.

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 in Echo Park. 
"It's scary going into this world not really knowing what's gonna happen because you get information one day, and then a couple of days later it changes," said J.D. Friedman of Basin 141. 

State health leaders 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 confirmed last week that L.A. County could be upgraded to the red tier by Friday, when the state officially met 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 would take 48 hours after the state announces the vaccination threshold is met for the county to officially move into the red tier. I

RELATED: LA County Marks Anniversary Of 1st COVID Death, Prepares To Expand Vaccine Eligibility

With that 2 million mark met, counties are now 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 previous 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.

The red tier also gives permission for 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.

On Monday, the L.A. County Department of Public Health reported 422 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and six new deaths, bringing countywide totals to 1,210,663 cases and 22,475 deaths. Health officials said the lower number of deaths might reflect weekend reporting delays.

There were 893 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, 28% of whom were being treated in intensive care units.

With testing results available for nearly 5,961,000 individuals, the county's overall positivity rate was holding steady at 19%, though the daily positivity rate fell to 1.7%.

L.A. County's coronavirus case rate currently sits at 6.9 daily cases per 100,000 residents, according to the latest state numbers.

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

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