San Mateo County expected to advance to orange tier

San Mateo County is expected to advance into the less restrictive orange tier on Tuesday. The move means restaurants can open at half capacity and family entertainment centers and cardrooms can allow people inside.

The last time San Mateo County was in the orange tier was back in October. The county has been in the red tier for three weeks now. Leaders are confident the county meets the state’s criteria to safely ease restrictions.

"I’m so happy we are finally going to go back to normal," said Bel Mateo Bowl Owner Mike Leong.

For Leong, normal means the sound of pins dropping again at Bel Mateo Bowl in San Mateo. It’s one of the few bowling alleys in the Bay Area spared during the pandemic.

The owner added elaborate air purifying systems and other sanitation measures at a cost of $40,000.

"Cost is really not the issue here, it’s the safety of my employees and my customers," said Leong.

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

At Lucky Chances in Colma, no more outdoor tent as Plexi glass dividers will greet players indoors.

"Even at 25 percent capacity that will allow us to move all of our California style games indoors, we can utilize the entire gaming floor," said Lucky Chances General Manager Dustin Chase.

The move to orange tier means family entertainment centers and cardrooms can operate indoors at 25 percent. Museums and zoos, places of worship, movie theaters, and restaurants can up capacity to 50 percent. Retail and shopping centers can open at full capacity and offices can open indoors although telework is encouraged.

"I believe we’re trending in the right direction coupled with vaccinations, unbelievable," said San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa.

The county is able to move to the orange tier based on a falling case rate and health equity quartile positivity rate, which measures the rates of infection in the most disadvantaged communities.

"We’re far from out of this and we could go south with this epidemic again," said Dr. George Rutherford, professor of epidemiology at UCSF.

As more sectors reopen, epidemiologists advise caution since pockets in the state are not yet vaccinated.

At Sapore in Burlingame, the owner said the tier change means not worrying about paying rent and hiring back staff.

"I’m very happy we can finally open and start to live again," said Sapore Italiano Owner Elio D’Urzo.

The changes are expected to go into effect Wednesday after the state’s official announcement.

Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Azenith at and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or