OAKLAND, Calif. - As it had hoped, Alameda County on Tuesday upgraded to the orange tier of California's COVID-19 reopening plan.
Starting on Wednesday, they join San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Marin counties in the second least restrictive category under the state's color coded system.
Napa County was not among the counties allowed to move into the orange tier and remains in the red category. County officials were aware that a recent COVID outbreak at a veterans facility could jeopardize their move into the orange tier.
California's orange tier allows for an easing of pandemic restrictions, allowing indoor services for movie theaters at 50% capacity, 25% at bowling alleys, full capacity for retailers and a partial return to indoor offices for companies as long as they have made safety modifications.
Businesses in Alameda County anticipated the tier upgrade and were already implementing additional COVID safeguards ahead of the official announcement.
"Very excited," said Precious J. Stroud, the owner of PJS Consultants, who has a small office in Jack London Square.
"We got sanitizing wipes, we've got gloves, disposable masks," she said. Stroud also purchased an air purifier, a new computer for streaming video conferences, and other necessary equipment.
At Livermore's Shadow Puppet Brewing Company, excitement was brewing. They're ready to raise a glass, celebrating the county's move to the orange tier.
"We have been waiting for this for pretty much most of the year. So we are long due and extremely excited as are our customers," said Brian Blackburn, CEO of Shadow Puppet.
Alameda County officials call it a boost for both the economy and for morale.
"That cabin fever effect is wearing on people and so we can shed that finally and move on," said Alameda County Supervisor David Haubert.
In the Livermore Valley, Wood Family Vineyards is one of many wineries adapting to the new restrictions.
Rhonda Wood said the region is ready. "Excited and figuring it out. You know figuring out how they're going to do it. And getting on more staff possibly," she said.
Wood is considering hiring another person. And though she's keeping her outdoor area, she's preparing to do tastings indoors too.
She said her customers keep calling about it.
"Every single day. Are we going to get to go inside? Are we going to get to go inside? Well eventually. And little by little yes, as long as things keep going the way they are," Wood said.
Officials are asking that people continue to wear masks and social distance when they can.