Los Angeles has continued its dramatic turnaround in dealing with COVID-19, receiving clearance on Tuesday to move up to the fourth and least-restrictive tier in California's reopening system. The county will officially move up to the yellow tier on Thursday.
For movie theaters, which were previously able to open with auditorium capacity at 50%, this means that capacity can increase to 75% if all moviegoers are fully vaccinated. Otherwise, the capacity limit remains at 50%.
Beyond the film industry, businesses that previously had to stay closed like bars and saunas can now reopen, while other businesses like gyms and indoor entertainment centers like arcades can increase their capacity from 25% to 50%.
And for Dodger Stadium and other outdoor sporting venues, maximum capacity can increase from 33% to 67%. The Dodgers had previously introduced a special section for fans with proof of full vaccination with no social distancing.
On Monday, L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer praised residents who have gotten vaccinated for helping turn the city from the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. to one of the least-infected cities in the country. However, she urged residents to continue practicing social distancing and mask-wearing whenever possible.
"We're just going to want to make sure that wherever you're going, you can always keep distance of at least six feet from others, that everyone is always wearing their masks appropriately...and that infection control is still apparent everywhere that people are going to be where they're intermingling," she said. "So we still have to protect our workers. We still have to protect children."
Los Angeles saw the rate of daily new cases peak at over 21,000 around New Year's Eve, but rapidly declined over the course of January and February. On March 12, the county began its reopening process when it qualified to move from the purple tier to the red tier, allowing movie theaters to reopen for the first time in a year.
The county reached the final tier of reopening when case rates fell below 2 per 100,000 people over the past two weeks. Daily new cases have not exceeded 500 since April 12, and no deaths have been reported in the county over the past two days. Vaccines have been a major factor in getting L.A. to this point, as over 7.6 million doses have been administered so far with 47% of county residents receiving at least one dose.
But as with the rest of the country, vaccination rates have seen a noticeable decline over the course of April, with the seven-day average currently at 61,201 after peaking at over 100,000 doses per day at the end of March. In an effort to counter this, the L.A. County Department of Public Health announced this week that all county-run sites will offer vaccinations with no appointments this week while supplies last.