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Posted on: March 16, 2021

COVID-19 Update: San Mateo in Orange Tier

COVID-19 Restrictions Eased as San Mateo Enters Orange Tier

The state of California announced beginning March 17, San Mateo County is moving into the less restrictive “orange tier” which allows the easing of certain restrictions and most indoor businesses to operate with modifications.

The shift to orange at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, March 17, 2021, comes one year to the day of the Bay Area’s first stay-at-home order. The county was last in the less-restrictive orange tier in the state’s color-coded plan for reducing COVID-19 in October 2020. The county had been in the red tier for three weeks.

The county moved to the orange “moderate” tier due to two metrics calculated by the state: the adjusted case rate has fallen to 2.8 per 100,000 in population and test positivity rate, excluding prisons, is 1.1 per 100,000. The health equity quartile positivity rate is 1.9 per 100,000 in population. The health equity quartile measures rates of infection with the virus in the county’s most disadvantaged communities based on the California Health Places Index.


Learn more about COVID-19 testing and the ongoing roll out of the vaccine in San Mateo County. 


What's Allowed Under Orange Tier

  • Restaurants indoors (max 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer)

  • All retail indoors (open indoors with modifications)
  • Shopping malls (open indoors with modifications. Closed common areas, reduced capacity food courts)
  • Personal care services – hair and nail salons, barbershops (open with modifications)
  • Offices - non-essential businesses (can open indoors with modifications, encourage working remotely)
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums (indoors with max 50% capacity)
  • Places of worship (max 50% capacity)
  • Movie theaters indoors (max 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer)
  • Gyms and fitness centers indoors (max 25% capacity, indoor pools and climbing walls allowed. Indoor hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms must close)
  • Family entertainment centers (Can open indoors for naturally distanced activities, with modifications - capacity must be limited to 25%. Bowling alleys and escape rooms allowed. Can open outdoors with modifications for activities like kart racing, mini-golf and batting cages) 
  • Hotels, lodging and short-term rentals (can open with modifications)
  • Wineries/breweries where no meals are served (max 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
  • Bars where no meals are served (allowed outdoors with modifications)
  • Schools: California has updated the guidance and framework for reopening-12 schools for in-person learning for the 2020-21 school year. Learn more in the K-12 schools reopening framework and guidance. Individuals interested in the potential impact on local schools should contact local school districts.
  • Youth and adult recreational sports: Follow this guidance for youth sports programs, including school-based, club and recreational programs, and adult recreational sports including limitations for competitions.
  • And more

The California Department of Public Health has a breakdown of what's allowed in each tierAll businesses are required to follow industry-specific guidance. You can easily search for an extensive list of what’s open in San Mateo County at any given time on the State’s Blueprint web page.

If you wish to report a businesses that is not complying with COVID regulations, please visit the County's COVID-19 business compliance task force web page.

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