Bay Area guide to COVID-19 rules: What each county allows

California’s color-coded tier system that has for months determined what businesses and activities may open in each county is coming to an end.

The state expects to dissolve the tiers by June 15, essentially allowing the economy to fully reopen while eliminating many rules that required face masks in almost all public settings.

As long as COVID vaccinations are widely available and hospitalization rates remain low, Gov. Newsom said the tier system would be dropped.

But until then, residents will be subject to the rules of the purple, red, orange and yellow tiers.

Status of Bay Area counties

There are purple, red, orange and yellow tiers. COVID-19 is "widespread" in purple counties. Red counties have a "substantial" outbreak. Orange has "moderate" cases while yellow have "minimal." 

California updates the tier statuses each Tuesday here.

These are the tiers for the nine Bay Area counties:

  • Alameda - Yellow
  • Contra Costa - Orange
  • Marin - Yellow
  • Napa - Yellow
  • San Francisco - Yellow
  • San Mateo - Yellow
  • Santa Clara - Yellow
  • Solano - Orange
  • Sonoma - Orange

To see the status of other California counties and more detailed information about what's open, visit the state's website for reopening the economy.

Although Gov. Newsom touted the color rating as simpler to comprehend, many may still find it complicated. That's because even though the state grants specific permissions for each tier, counties may be more cautious than what is allowed. 

California's color-coded tiers

Here are the general rules for what is permitted at each tier.


Some indoor operations are allowed in purple counties.

Hair salons and barbershops that obey certain restrictions, such as mask requirements, can open indoors. So can malls and shops that reduce capacity to 25%. 

Personal care services, such as nail spas, can serve customers  with restrictions.

Museums, places of worship movie theaters and gyms, can also only allow people to gather at outdoor facilities, likewise with modifications.

Restaurants, bars and breweries serving meals and wineries can serve customers outdoors by upholding some COVID-19 modifications. Breweries, distilleries and wineries that don't serve food may open outdoors with limits while bars must remain closed, according to rules updated in March 2021.

Hotels can open with restrictions. 


California public health administrators said on Mar. 5 that theme parks and outdoor venues, including ballparks and concert venues, can reopen once a county reaches the red tier. But there are a series of restrictions. No indoor dining is allowed, there will be limits to indoor rides and theme parks can only accepting visitors from California. 

Like purple counties, barbershops and hair salons are allowed to serve customers inside retail spaces. 

Malls and indoor shopping can operate at 50% of capacity with restrictions. Personal services can be open indoors too.

Museums and zoos may open indoor exhibits at a reduced capacity. Likewise, churches, temples and other places for religious worship can hold indoor services at reduced capacity.

Gyms and fitness centers can open with capacity limits. Restaurants and bars, breweries and distilleries that serve meals can open indoors with restrictions and reduced capacity.

Bars that don't serve food must be closed.

Movie theaters may open at 25% capacity or up to 100 viewers in a room.

Hotels can open with increased capacity. 


Indoor salons and barbershops can open with modifications.

Indoor shopping and malls can open with restrictions. Food courts may open with restrictions. 

Personal care services can serve customers indoors too. 

Gyms, museums, houses of worship and movie theaters are open with increased capacity compared to the red tier. 

Likewise, restaurants and bars preparing food can serve customers indoors at 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is less.

Wineries, breweries and distilleries that don't serve food open indoors at 25% capacity or with 100 people, whichever is less, and other restrictions. Bars that only serve drinks can open outdoors in this tier.

Some indoor gathering places, like bowling alleys, may open. 


The yellow tier has the most permissions, but many restrictions will still be in place. Hair salons and barbershops are open with restrictions as are indoor malls and other retail operations. 

Restrictions will be in place at indoor personal care facilities. Museums and zoos may open indoor exhibits too with limitations. 

Places of worship, movie theaters and gyms are open with higher capacity than the orange tier. 

Restaurants and bars and breweries serving food can be open indoors at 50% capacity. Wineries, breweries and distilleries that don't serve food can serve fill to 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is less. Bars that only serve drinks can open indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is less.

Gathering places like bowling alleys are permitted to expand capacity compared to the orange tier. 

Cardrooms can open modified operations indoors.