San Mateo County first Bay Area region to reach coveted orange tier since last fall

San Mateo County on Tuesday officially moved into the state's orange tier, becoming the first Bay Area region to do so since last fall. 

The new changes go into effect on Wednesday and allow for increased capacity at churches, indoor restaurants and bars, and breweries. 

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.

The last time San Mateo County was in the orange tier was back in October. The county had been in the red tier for three weeks. Before the switch, leaders said they were confident the county would meet the state's criteria to safely ease restrictions.

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

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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.