LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles County on Thursday moved into the least-restrictive yellow tier of California’s coronavirus reopening blueprint.
Entering the yellow tier allows bars to reopen indoors at 25%. It is the first time that bars have reopened indoors since early July of 2020.
However, just because bars are allowed to reopen or expand capacity, does not mean that they can, as some are facing labor shortages, after many establishments were forced to lay off employees when revenues were down.
“We’re short-staffed currently and we’re finding a lot of people don’t really want to go back to work, or this type of work,” said Margaret Feeney, a server in Hermosa Beach.
Many customers are still hesitant to go inside restaurants and bars.
“Having live music and being outside is fantastic,” said Chris Ryan Thursday.
“When we bought this bar, it was five months before they shut us down,” said Camila Perry owner of the North End in Hollywood. “We have been waiting for this for a year.”
Sisters Janice and Mia Carter who were eating lunch outdoors said they have mixed feelings about bellying up to a bar now that L.A. County has advanced into the yellow tier.
“I’m pretty open to it. I’m excited things are getting back to normal,” Mia said.
However, her sister Janice said, “Me personally, I don’t feel comfortable.”
Moving into the yellow tier also allows fitness centers, cardrooms, wineries and breweries will be allowed to increase indoor capacity to 50%.
Outdoor sporting venues, such as Dodger Stadium, can increase capacity to 67%. Amusement parks, such as Universal Studios, can increase capacity from 25% to 35%.
“This has been a long and difficult journey and we are so heartened to arrive at this latest milestone,” the L.A. County Board of Supervisors said in a statement Tuesday. “Entering the Yellow Tier means we have reached the next-to-last stage before fully reopening, and this is another welcome sign we are moving toward a safe and healthy new normal, one that is guided by hope rather than fear. This new tier matches the sunny optimism of the season. Now it’s up to all of us to keep up the good work. It’s never been easier to get vaccinated, and that is the single most important action you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your community. Continuing to make smart choices now moves us closer to fully enjoy all the wonderful things that Los Angeles County has to offer.”
To qualify for the yellow tier, a county must have less than 2.0 cases per 100,000 residents, and it must maintain that for two weeks.
L.A. County’s adjusted average daily coronavirus case rate fell to 1.6 people per 100,000 residents, according to weekly numbers released Tuesday by the state.
L.A. County also must also maintain an average test positivity rate for the past seven days of under 2.0% to get into the yellow tier. L.A. County’s test positivity rate currently stands at 0.7%.
Despite the optimistic outlook, L.A. County health officials are also seriously concerned about a decline in vaccination rates, however. L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer provided figures Monday showing that for the week ending April 23, 611,592 doses were administered in the county. Last week, however, only 467,134 doses were administered, representing a 24% drop.
She said that roughly 37% of L.A. County’s population is now considered fully vaccinated. Health officials have said the county needs to get to an 80% vaccination rate to reach so-called “herd immunity.”
Ferrer said she is less focused on that 80% figure as she is about getting accurate information out about the effectiveness of the vaccines and making it easier for people to get them.
“I’m not as much worried about what’s the number for herd immunity, and do we get there and what that concept really needs to mean, as I am about we’ve got a powerful vaccine, we’re hopeful that more and more people will continue to come and get vaccinated and (we) want to make that as easy as possible.”
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)