The state of California announced on April 6 that Sonoma County is once again switching tiers in the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework, shifting from the red tier to the less restrictive orange tier. Revised guidelines associated with the orange tier are effective at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, April 7.

The change comes as a result of the state shifting its minimum case rate requirement for the orange tier from four per 100,000 people to six cases per 100,000 people. The switch occurred as a result of California administering 4 million vaccine doses to the state’s top 400 hardest-hit ZIP codes.

“The move to the orange tier is yet another important sign that we are on our way out of this pandemic,” said Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, in a statement. “Getting into the orange tier also is validation of all the hard work our entire community has done over the past year. But we still have a ways to go, which means we all need to continue to be smart and safe until we achieve herd immunity. That means wearing our masks, avoiding large gatherings and getting tested. All of this will help us get into the yellow tier as soon as possible.”

While Sonoma County’s virus numbers have been steadily declining for a number of weeks, local health officials are still urging people to be cautious and mindful of the COVID-19 virus. The decline in case rates have slowed and any impacts from recent holidays are yet to be realized.

“All in all, we are doing quite well as we enter the orange tier,” said Dr. Sundari Mase, health officer for Sonoma County. “We should all feel good about our progress against COVID-19. We also want to move safely through the orange tier and not lose ground. Even as more of us are getting vaccinated each day, it is crucial to be aware of the surges happening in other parts of the country and avoid outbreaks here. That is why it is vital to keep getting tested and to be safe.”

Contributing to the decline in case rates is an increase in vaccination rates. According to the county, half of eligible Sonoma County residents 16 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 30% being fully vaccinated.

What changes in the orange tier?

According to a press release put out by the County of Sonoma on Tuesday afternoon, the move from the red tier into the orange means the following:

●    Restaurants, including wineries, breweries and distilleries that serve meals, are allowed to operate indoors with 50% capacity or a maximum of 200 people, whichever is fewer.

●    Retail establishments are allowed to operate indoors at normal capacity.

●    Places of worship and movie theaters are allowed to operate indoors with 50% capacity or a maximum of 200 people, whichever is fewer.

●    Gyms and health clubs, including yoga studios, are allowed to operate indoors with 25% capacity.

●    Museums, zoos and aquariums can offer indoor activities at 50% capacity.

●    Breweries, wineries and distilleries that do not serve meals may open indoors with modifications: 25% capacity indoors, or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

●    Bars that do not serve meals may open outdoors with modifications.

●    Non-essential offices can open indoors with modifications. However, telework is still strongly encouraged.

●    Graduation and commencement ceremonies can be held outdoors at 33% capacity with assigned seating and other modifications.

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