O.C., San Bernardino to reopen Sunday under red tier rules, ahead of L.A. County

With the state having reached its target on vaccinating vulnerable Californians, both Orange and San Bernardino counties say they will advance this weekend into the red tier, the second-most restrictive level of the statewide reopening system.

That means movie theaters, dining and gyms will be able to open indoors at limited capacity Sunday — one day before Los Angeles County reopens under the red tier guidelines. Click here for details on what changes when a county enters the red tier.

Breweries, wineries and distilleries are also being allowed to reopen outdoors this weekend, even if they don’t serve food, under new rules issued by the state.

The three Southern California counties are among 13 qualifying to advance from the purple tier, the most restrictive level, after the state achieved its goal of administering 2 million vaccine doses to people in low-income ZIP codes. As the state hit that metric, it eased the requirements for counties to reopen.

On Tuesday, the state expects 13 more counties to move into the red tier, including Sacramento, San Diego, Riverside and Ventura.

With more than two dozen counties advancing — including the state’s largest, Los Angeles — the vast majority of Californians will live in red tier counties. Only a tiny portion of Californians live in the three rural counties in the orange and yellow tiers.

Once the state administers 4 million shots in vulnerable neighborhoods, officials say they will update criteria for moving into the orange and yellow tiers.

Orange County had been in the purple tier since November, but San Bernardino County had lingered there since the state introduced the color-coded tier system in August.

“People throughout our county have worked relentlessly over the past year to protect each other’s health and safety,” San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Chair Curt Hagman said in a statement. “This has been a community-wide effort involving everyone from healthcare professionals and essential workers to businesses and residents following strict public health protocols. Our diligence is now beginning to pay off.”

San Bernardino saw the number of daily new cases decline 99% from Jan. 4 — when 5,421 were reported — to 47 new cases on Tuesday, according to Corwin Porter, the county’s public health director.  

Porter said he expects metrics to continue improving as vaccination becomes more widespread, but he added that things could still worsen if residents cease distancing and using masks.

“We’ve made huge progress but we’re not out of the woods yet,” he said.

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