Indoor bars, saunas and expanded capacity: Here are the changes as L.A. County moves into the yellow tier

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Los Angeles County is moving into the yellow tier of the state’s reopening plan on Thursday, May 6. That means bars can reopen indoors, saunas can welcome back visitors and sports games can have more fans in the stands.

The yellow tier is the least-restrictive under the state’s four-tier, color-coded reopening plan.

Also entering the yellow tier along with L.A. County this week are San Francisco and Trinity counties in Northern California. They join Alpine, Lassen, Mendocino and Sierra counties, which were previously the only four in the least-restrictive tier.

L.A. County public health officials on Wednesday released county-specific rules for further reopening, largely mirroring the guidelines set forth by the state.

Under the plan, gyms, movie theaters, amusement parks, sports games and other live events, museums, zoos and aquariums can all increase their capacity.

Bars that don’t serve food can also reopen indoors, as can saunas and steam rooms, with capacity limits.

And while the state initially said theme parks and live venues could only allow in-state visitors, the guidance now says out-of-state visitors may attend if they’re fully vaccinated.

Some venues can also increase capacity further if all attendees are fully vaccinated or test negative for coronavirus. Venues are additionally allowed to create vaccinated-only sections, but face coverings will still be required.

For those in need of a negative COVID-19 test for an event, PCR testing must be conducted within 72 hours and antigen tests within 24 hours of the start time.

Here’s how the L.A. County guidance outlines changes under the yellow tier:

Amusement parks and fairs: Capacity can increase to 35%, up from 25% in the orange tier. State guidance says indoor spaces on the premises must still limit capacity to 25% with time limits, but L.A. County’s rules say theme park restaurants can have an indoor dining capacity of 35%.

Waterparks can operate at 40% capacity.

Visitors must be from California or be able to provide proof of full vaccination.

Family entertainment centers such as arcades, ice rinks, bowling alleys and laser tag: Indoor capacity will rise to 50%, from 25% in the orange tier. If guests provide proof of a negative test or full vaccination, capacity can increase to 75%.

Alcohol can now be sold at these venues without meals, but food must still be consumed in designated areas.

Live events and performances at indoor venues: Capacity will increase at smaller venues, and at larger ones if all attendees can provide proof of a negative test or full vaccination.

Venues of up to 1,500 people can have maximum 25% capacity or up to 300 people total, up from 15% and 200 people in the orange tier. If all guests are tested or show proof they’re fully vaccinated, these venues can operate at 50% capacity.

For larger venues, capacity remains the same as in the orange tier — 10% or 2,000 people, whichever is fewer — unless all attendees provide a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination. In that case, capacity can be 50%, up from 35% under those conditions in the orange tier.

Attendees must be from California or able to provide proof of full vaccination.

Other rules that will remain in place from the orange tier include mandatory digital tickets that must be purchased in advance, food must be consumed in a designated area with no eating or drinking in seats, and suites can have 25% capacity with people from up to three households.

Outdoor live events, including sports: Capacity increases to 67%, up from 33% in the orange tier. Each suite can have 25% capacity.

Attendees must be from California or able to provide proof of full vaccination.

As in the orange tier, indoor concessions must be in designated areas.

Gyms and fitness centers: They can now have 50% capacity, up from 25% in the orange tier. Saunas and steam rooms can open back up, also with up to 50% capacity. In the orange tier, they had to remain closed. Masks are still required, unless you’re swimming.

Movie theaters: They can operate at up to 50% capacity. In the orange tier, maximum capacity was capped at 200 people, but in the yellow tier there is no limit for the total number of moviegoers, provided it’s no more than half the total capacity.

Bars that don’t serve food: They can open indoors at up to 25% capacity or a total of 100 people, whichever is fewer. In the orange tier, bars are only allowed to operate outdoors if meals aren’t served.

L.A. County says people must be seated while eating or drinking, and when not consuming anything they must wear a mask. Tables must be at least 6 feet apart, and there will no counter seating or service.

People from up to six different households can meet up at a bar indoors if they’re all vaccinated, but those not yet vaccinated are only allowed to sit indoors with their own household. Outdoors, vaccinated people can join with eight other households, or up the three households for those unvaccinated.

No live entertainment is permitted indoors, but performances can happen outdoors.

Wineries, breweries and distilleries: Indoor capacity can increase to 50% or 200 people, whichever is fewer. In the orange tier, indoor capacity was set at 25% or no more than 100 people.

People from up to six different households can be together indoors if they’re all vaccinated, but those not yet vaccinated are only allowed to sit indoors with their own household. Outdoors, vaccinated people can join with eight other households, or up the three households for those unvaccinated.

No live entertainment is permitted indoors, but performances can happen outdoors.

Restaurants: Their indoor capacity remains 50%. In the orange tier, maximum capacity was capped at 200 people, but in the yellow tier there is no limit for the total number of diners, provided it’s no more than half the total capacity.

People from up to six different households can be together indoors if they’re all vaccinated, but those not yet vaccinated are only allowed to sit indoors with up to six people from their own household.

Museums, zoos and aquariums: These venues can operate at up to 75% capacity indoors. That differs from the state’s guidance, which removed the capacity limit for indoor activities at museums in the yellow tier. In the orange tier, indoor activities could only have up to 50% capacity.

Card rooms: They can operate at up to 50% capacity, up from 25%. Tables must have 6 feet of distance between them and masks are required. Food and beverage service is banned at the tables.

Places of worship: They are strongly recommended to keep attendance at 50% of capacity or less, which is the same as the orange tier.

Hotels and lodging: On-premises fitness centers can now have 50% capacity, up from 25%, and spa facilities can open.

Shopping malls: Common areas can open in the yellow tier, but food courts must continue to reduce capacity.

Informal social gatherings: If people are gathering outdoors, up to 100 can attend in the yellow tier, up from 50 people in the orange tier.  

Indoor gatherings are still strongly discouraged, but allowed with modifications. Their capacity can be up to 50% capacity in settings where capacity limits exist, or 50 people total, or whichever is fewer.

Editor’s note: This post was updated on May 5, 2021, to include the minor differences between California and L.A. County’s guidelines for the yellow tier following the release of L.A. County’s updated health officer order.

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