Yellow tier status allows broadest reopening of economy since beginning of the pandemic
May 11, 2021
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    Redwood City — The state of California today announced that, beginning Wednesday, May 12, a multitude of indoor businesses and activities in San Mateo County can reopen or expand as the risk from COVID-19 is “minimal.”

    The move to the state’s least restrictive yellow tier allows expanded capacity at restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, indoor businesses and a host of other operations. Bars that do not serve food can reopen indoors with a maximum capacity of 25 percent or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

    This is San Mateo County’s first time in the yellow tier since the state last summer unveiled the color-coded Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The advance comes six weeks before Gov. Gavin Newsom has said the entire state may fully reopen on June 15.

    “Moving to the yellow tier is a credit to everyone who has worn their masks to slow the spread and to the 76 percent of us here in San Mateo County who have rolled up their sleeves and gotten the vaccine,” said David J. Canepa, president of the Board of Supervisors.

    “This is also terrific news for our business community,” Canepa said. “Let’s keep up the good work and if you haven’t done so, please get vaccinated as soon as you can. You can walk in to many vaccination sites and get a shot without an appointment.”

    The move into yellow officially takes effect Wednesday at 12:01 a.m.

    The state moved the county to the yellow tier based on the following metrics as calculated by the state.

    The adjusted COVID-19 case rate has fallen to 1.8, and test positivity rate is 0.6%. The health equity quartile positivity rate is 1.3. The health equity quartile measures rates of infection with the virus in the county’s most disadvantaged communities based on the California Healthy Places Index.

    yellow level information
    Note: This graphic is available for your use in English, Spanish, Chinese and Tagalog.

    The County of San Mateo fully aligns with the state’s Industry Guidance for operations and activities in the yellow tier.

    For County Parks, the move doubles the number of people allowed at reserved picnic sites, to 100 individuals. Group camp sites remain closed but reservations are available for camping at Memorial Park for individuals from the same household. Learn more at the County Parks website.

    County Health Aligns Face Mask Guidelines with State

    Also today, Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow has rescinded his June 17, 2020 order for social distancing guidelines and face covering requirements in favor of State guidance. The move allows San Mateo County to align with the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health. The CDPH issued its Guidance for the Use of Face Coverings on May 3, 2021.

    In summary:

    For fully vaccinated persons, face coverings are not required outdoors except when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events or other similar settings.

    For unvaccinated persons, face coverings are required outdoors any time physical distancing cannot be maintained, including when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events or other similar settings.

    In indoor settings outside of one's home, including public transportation, face coverings continue to be required regardless of vaccination status, with certain exceptions.

    Helpful Links

    COVID-19 vaccination clinics are available at convenient times and in many locations throughout San Mateo County. Learn more at

    Appointments are accessed via MyTurn four or more days before the date of the clinic — but appointments are not required.

    Testing, even for those fully vaccinated, remains essential to protecting public health. Get tested if you have been exposed to someone who is positive, if you have been in a crowd where people were not wearing masks, or if you have symptoms.

    Learn more at

    Graphics for social media and other uses, including graphics for the county’s move to the yellow tier, are available for free downloading at

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