San Mateo County becomes second Bay Area county to move to yellow tier for COVID-19 reopening

San Mateo County moved into the state's yellow tier for COVID-19 reopening on Tuesday, becoming the second Bay Area county, after San Francisco, to be elevated into the least restrictive, minimal risk category. 

 San Mateo County moved into the state's yellow COVID-19 reopening tier Tuesday, May 11, 2021.

The move means that effective 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, "a multitude of indoor businesses and activities in San Mateo County can reopen or expand as the risk from COVID-19 is 'minimal,'" county officials said.

Restaurant gyms, movie theaters, and other indoor establishments will be allowed to expand capacity. Bars that do not serve food can reopen indoors with a maximum capacity of 25 percent or 100 people, whichever is fewer. 

The yellow tier also means county parks can double the number of people allowed at reserved picnic sites, to 100.  

"Moving to the yellow tier is a credit to everyone who has worn their masks to slow the spread and to the 76 percent of us here in San Mateo County who have rolled up their sleeves and gotten the vaccine," said David J. Canepa, president of the Board of Supervisors. 


Also on Tuesday, the county’s health officer Dr. Scott Morrow rescinded his order for social distancing guidelines and face covering requirements that was made back on June 17, 2020. The county said it will now align with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health.

Under those guidelines, face coverings are not required outdoors for fully vaccinated people, except when attending crowded outdoor gatherings, such as live performances, festivals, parades, and sporting events.

For those who have not been vaccinated, face coverings are required outdoors any time physical distancing cannot be maintained.

In addition, masks continue to be required regardless of vaccination status, when people are indoors (outside of their homes), including when riding public transportation. 

A woman wearing a face mask walks out of a bookstore at a shopping mall amid the coronavirus outbreak on June 19, 2020 in San Mateo, California. (Photo by Liu Guanguan/China News Service via Getty Images)

As part of the state’s criteria to move into the yellow tier the county’s adjusted COVID-19 case rate had fallen to 1.8, with its test positivity rate at 0.6%, county health officials explained.  

It was the county’s first time in the yellow tier since California unveiled its color-coded Blueprint for a Safer Economy last summer. The move to the least restrictive tier comes more than a month ahead of the June 15 date Gov. Gavin Newsom has set for the entire state to fully reopen.

"This is also terrific news for our business community. Let’s keep up the good work," Canepa said, adding, "if you haven’t done so, please get vaccinated as soon as you can."