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Bars To Reopen Outdoors As OC Moves Into Orange Tier; LA County To Follow Suit Next Week

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – California officials reported Tuesday that Los Angeles and Orange counties are eligible to move into the orange tier of the state's coronavirus reopening guidelines after meeting the required standards to do so.

Daily Life In Los Angeles Around The One-Year Anniversary Of The COVID-19 Shut Down
Diners eat dinner at a restaurant's outdoor tables on March 17, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. After undergoing various shutdown orders for the past 12 months because of COVID-19, Los Angeles is currently in the red tier of its reopening plan, allowing for low-risk outdoor activities, movie and television productions, indoor dining, gyms, amusement parks, and movie theaters to reopen with capacity restrictions (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

Orange County announced that it would immediately ease restrictions beginning Wednesday. However, L.A. County will wait until Monday, April 5, to follow suit.

The move will increase capacity limits for restaurants, movie theaters, churches, museums, zoos and aquariums from 25% to 50%. Fitness center capacity is also eligible to be increased from 10% to 25%.

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also said a revised health order will go into effect on April 5 allowing for bars to reopen outdoors with modifications. In L.A. County, bars will be limited to outdoor table service only, operating only from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., with a required 8-foot distance between outdoor tables.

L.A. County breweries and wineries can also open indoors at 25% capacity. Breweries, wineries and bars will all again be allowed to turn on their televisions outdoors, but live entertainment remains prohibited.

Cardrooms and family fun centers, such as bowling alleys, can operate indoors at 25% capacity.

Although state guidelines allow a lifting of all capacity restrictions on retail establishments in the orange tier, L.A. County will impose a 75% limit for grocery stores and other retail operations, while "strongly" recommending they remain at 50% capacity until April 15 to allow time for more workers to get vaccinated.

Theme parks will be able to expand capacity to 25%, up from 15%. Six Flags Magic Mountain and Legoland are reopening April 1, the first day they are allowed to do so, while Disneyland announced it will reopen April 30. On Tuesday, Universal Studios announced it will reopen April 16.

The Anaheim businesses around Disneyland which rely on tourists and guests say this is a welcome news, especially for those that locked their doors during the pandemic.

"It's a beginning, we're gonna step forward with baby steps, we're just like, so happy," Subway store owner Ric Cerney told CBSLA Tuesday.

The move will also allow Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium and other venues to increase fan capacity to 33%, up from the current 20%.

"This is an incredible step forward. Folks have not been able to come to our city to enjoy the theme parks for a convention, to enjoy baseball for more than a year now," Anaheim spokesperson Mike Lyster said.

According to Ferrer, L.A. County is holding off on the move to monitor case numbers during the county's third week in the more restrictive red tier, adding it's unclear why the state decided to allow the county to advance immediately to the orange tier even though counties are required to wait three weeks before moving up under state guidelines.

O.C. met metrics to move to the orange tier on March 23. Because it must remain in the red tier for three weeks and maintain current levels for two, the county was not expected to move tiers until April 7.

Qualifying for the orange tier requires a county to average under 3.9 daily coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents, along with a test positivity rate of 4.9% or less. It has to maintain those levels for two straight weeks.

According to weekly figures released by the state Tuesday, L.A. County had a new case rate of 3.1 per 100,000 residents and a testing-positivity rate of 1.5%. Both numbers were down from last week, when L.A. County fell into the orange-tier range with a case rate of 3.7 per 100,000 residents, and a testing-positivity rate of 1.8%.

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State rules require counties to remain in a tier for three weeks before they can advance. Los Angeles County officially entered the red tier on March 12, so it technically cannot advance to orange until Friday.

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility will expand Thursday to all residents aged 50 and over. Beginning April 15, anyone age 16 and over will be eligible to receive the vaccine.

RELATED: San Bernardino Closing In On 4K Total COVID-19 Deaths, Ventura Nearing 1K

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

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