Retail returns to 100% indoor capacity Wednesday as Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties move to orange tier

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Bars that have been closed since June 2020 because of COVID-19 can get back to business outdoors, and indoor retail business can once again operate at 100% capacity on Wednesday when another five Southern California counties officially move into the orange tier, state officials announced Tuesday.

The counties’ eligibility for the less restrictive orange tier was announced Tuesday as Gov. Gavin Newsom declared that the state’s economy could fully open up again as early as June 15 and the tier system would end if the following criteria is met: California’s COVID-19 vaccine supply is sufficient for all adults who wish to receive the shot and hospitalization rates remain stable and low.

“Cases have been steadily declining, vaccine supply is improved, and today the state announced ending the tier system June 15. These are extremely positive signs that Riverside County continues to move forward and recover,” Supervisor Karen Spiegel said in a news release.

Riverside and 15 other counties advanced into a less restrictive tier Tuesday after California hit its goal of administering 4 million vaccine doses in the most vulnerable communities. Upon hitting the benchmark, the state loosened reopening requirements. 

In Southern California, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura and Imperial counties also moved into the orange tier, joining Orange and Los Angeles. 

Under the less restrictive orange tier, Riverside County places of worship, movie theaters, restaurants, museums, zoos and aquariums will be allowed to increase indoor capacity to 50% as long as some COVID-19 modifications are in place. Gyms, wineries, breweries and distilleries may also increase indoor capacity to 25% with modifications.

Bars that were closed since last summer can reopen outdoors and retail stores and shopping malls can fully reopen, but gathering in common areas will still be prohibited.

Beginning April 15 in Riverside County, meetings, receptions and conferences will be allowed indoors up to 150 people, if all guests are tested or fully vaccinated. 

“I know it’s been a long time since we have been able to enjoy some of these activities but I do want to remind people that we are not out of the woods yet,” County Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said in a video posted on Twitter. “We still have to work together to prevent transmission of COVID. So we still need people to wear masks, we need people to maintain physical distance and minimize gatherings as much as you can. Most, most importantly please get vaccinated.”

California has administered 20 millions vaccines and reached a statewide goal of administering 4 million vaccines in the most hard-hit communities. In Riverside County, 1 million does of the vaccine have been administered.

On Tuesday those 16 and older who live or work in Riverside County became eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine at the four county-run clinics, county health officials reported.

Officials reported Riverside County’s cases have been steadily declining for several weeks. The county’s current case rate is 3.5 per 100,000 people and percentage of positive tests is 2 percent. 

To make an appointment for a vaccine, visit rivcoph.org/covid-19-vaccine. Anyone who needs help making an appointment can call 211. Teens ages 16 and 17 will be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, but must be accompanied by a parent of legal guardian.

To schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 test, visit GetTested.ruhealth.org.

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