For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, San Mateo County has moved to the least restrictive “yellow tier.” The new designation now allows expanded capacity and indoor service at bars, restaurants, movie theaters and gyms.
The new regulations go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, May 12, after the county reported improving COVID-19 metrics. This week, the local adjusted case rate fell to 1.8 cases per 100,000 people, with a test positivity rate of 0.6 percent. In the county’s most at-risk communities, the positivity rate is 1.3 percent.
The county now joins San Francisco as the only other Bay Area county and one of just nine counties statewide in the yellow tier and able to expand indoor business. Starting Wednesday, bars, wineries, restaurants, movie theaters and places of worship can expand their indoor capacity. The new regulations also affect outdoor operations, allowing live events at two-thirds capacity, larger outdoor conventions, and up to 100 people to use reserved picnic sites in county parks.
The county also announced today that it would follow the state’s new mask guidance. That means that two weeks after their last shot, fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear masks outdoors except at crowded events like fairs or concerts. Those who remain unvaccinated must continue wearing masks outside whenever they’re not able to maintain social distancing. Masks are still required at all indoor settings except at home.
The move comes ahead of an expected change in structure on June 15, when Gov. Gavin Newsom has said the state will reopen fully, so long as cases continue to drop.
As of Monday, more than three-quarters of county residents 16 or older had been vaccinated against COVID-19 with at least one dose. To date, 568 residents have died from the virus and 18 remain hospitalized.