Orange tier allows workers to return to offices, but some prefer to stay home

With Alameda and Napa counties likely to join parts of the Bay Area in the orange tier in the next few days, more people will be going back to work in the office, or socializing with other households.

For some, the loosening of restrictions is inducing anxiety.

"We went to the boardwalk and there was a lot of people there," Ben Brigham, a college student who recently enjoyed a day at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, said. "It was pretty anxious because you know, I haven't been around that many people in a while," he said

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Starting Monday, some Uber employees can choose to work from the rideshare company's San Francisco headquarters on Third Street, after completing a virtual training, taking a daily health screening, and signing a form consenting to follow COVID-19 safety precautions. Uber is limiting capacity to 20 percent and bringing people back on a voluntary basis.

Kini Chang, an Oakland psychotherapist and professor at Holy Names University, sees some clients struggling to adjust to life outside of quarantine, cautious about re-entering places that have been off-limits for the past year. 

"Folks that have been very cautious in the pandemic are also cautious in their transition out," Chang said, noting that others who were lax on following safety precautions appear more eager to immediately return to their old social activities.

Health experts say with masks, social distancing, and more people vaccinated, there's less of a chance for another COVID-19 surge. But cases are rising in states where mask mandates and restrictions have gone away.

"Some of the cautionary tales are the variants are more widely circulating, so it probably will be less forgiving if we do have enough people getting it," Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, professor of medicine and an infectious disease specialist at UCSF said.

As restrictions ease, Chang advises people to transition into activities based on their comfort level, not forcing themselves to loosen their restrictions just because their county has.

"It's so important to listen to your comfort level and how you deal with transition," Chang said.

"We are still grieving in so many different levels," Catalina Galeno, who visited Campbell park on Sunday with her family, said. "But we are also coming back from a place where you know, we're learning to see the beauty in life and the simple things in life."