SANTA ANA (CBSLA/CNS) – Beginning tomorrow morning, Orange County will enter the less-restrictive red tier of the state’s coronavirus regulatory system, allowing for bigger crowds in retail stores and the reopening of museums, movie theaters and limited indoor dining at restaurants.

“We expected it — it’s almost anti-climactic at this point, but it’s a step forward. It gives people the relief they’ve been waiting for,” Supervisor Doug Chaffee said.

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“The governor is finally changing his rules in favor of getting us back to some form of normal,” Supervisor Don Wagner said. “Good for him. And good for the people of Orange County who have been following safety protocols and getting the vaccine to protect themselves, their friends, and family.”

On Saturday, the rate of new cases and hospitalizations continued to decline. The Orange County Health Care Authority reported 172 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 248,561.

26 fatalities due to COVID-19 were reported, raising the death toll to 4,434 since the pandemic began.

The OCHCA reported 237 COVID-19 patients in county hospitals and 71 in intensive care. Orange County currently has 31.4% of its ICU bed space available, and 68% of its ventilators.

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Orange County CEO Frank Kim said that although he was “excited” about moving up to the red tier, he cautioned residents to keep their guard up.

“People should be careful and I think most people in Orange County are smart enough to assess their level of comfort and safety,” he said. “For me, I intend to go visit my mom and have a meal with her, which will be great.”

The red tier allows for retail stores to open at 50% capacity, and museums, zoos, aquariums, movie theaters, gyms and restaurants to open at 25%.

Wineries, breweries and distilleries can reopen for outdoor business only.

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