Orange County Could Move to Yellow Tier by May 19

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Main News Photo

(Orange County Register)

Orange County notched a first week of eligibility for the less restrictive yellow tier, setting it up to advance in reopening more of the business and the public sectors as of May 19 if its progress curbing the coronavirus continues.

A county has to show it can keep the three metrics the state is watching in its tiers system under the threshold for the next tier for two weeks before it can make the move.

Leaving the orange tier for yellow would mean for a number of businesses – including bowling alleys, breweries, dance studios, and movie theaters – a boost in allowed capacity from 25% to 50%. Increased capacity has already been allowed for restaurants and most retail.

It had been the county’s rate of new cases that stalled its progression to the yellow tier; in terms of the percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive and showing its traditionally under-served communities weren’t being hit harder by the virus than the rest of the county, OC has to meet the state’s criteria for yellow for weeks.

But on May 11, when the state released its weekly update, Orange County had a case rate of 1.8 new daily cases per every 100,000 residents, solidly below the 2 cases per 100,000 threshold. Last week OC was at 2.4 cases per 100,000.

“It’s very exciting news,” Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said Monday, anticipating the county would move to yellow at least by the end of the month. “It’s huge for some businesses” including museums and zoos, and theme parks which can bump attendance from 25% to 35%.

Bartlett said she’s hoping to find out more soon about what will happen after June 15, when state officials have said the tier system will go away. It’s unclear whether most restrictions will simply be erased, or whether new guidelines will take their place.

Category: orange county, COVID-19