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Bars would be able to open outdoor areas without having to serve food under Orange Tier restrictions.

Los Angeles County today officially qualified for a move to the least-restrictive yellow tier of the state economic-reopening blueprint, meaning capacity limits will be increased at many businesses and bars will be permitted to reopen indoors.

Although the county will officially move into the yellow tier Wednesday, the county will not formally update its health order to loosen restrictions until Thursday.

Weekly statistics released by the state today showed the county's rate of daily new COVID-19 infections had fallen to 1.6 per 100,000 residents, down from 1.9 last week. Reaching the yellow tier of the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy requires a county to have a new-case rate less than 2 per 100,000 residents, and maintain that level for two consecutive weeks.

Los Angeles is the only Southern California to advance to the yellow tier. The rest of the region will remain in the orange tier.

What L.A. businesses can do under the Yellow Tier

Entering the yellow tier will primarily allow higher capacity limits at most businesses under state guidelines:

Fitness centers, cardrooms, wineries and breweries could increase indoor attendance to 50% of capacity, up from the current 25%

• Bars could open indoors at 25%

• Outdoor venues such as Dodger Stadium could increase capacity to 67%, up from the current 33%

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• Amusement parks capacity could increase to 35%, up from 25%.

Counties are permitted to impose tougher restrictions than the state allows, and Los Angeles County has done so occasionally during the pandemic. But Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Monday that the county plans to largely align with state yellow-tier guidelines.

Masking still required under the Yellow Tier

Speaking to the Board of Supervisors today, Ferrer said that despite the easing restrictions, residents will need to continue adhering to basic infection-control measures. She noted that the eased restrictions "will still require safety modifications, including masking, distancing and infection control to keep reducing the risk of transmission."

"These standard public health practices remain essential until we have many more individuals vaccinated," she said.

As of April 30, just more than 8 million doses of vaccine had been administered in Los Angeles County, including roughly 5 million first doses and 3 million second doses. Ferrer said that roughly 37% of the county's eligible population is fully vaccinated, meaning they have received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. She said 65% of residents aged 65 and older are fully vaccinated.

The county on today announced 18 new COVID-19 deaths, following two consecutive days of no deaths. Those two days were attributed to lags in reporting from the weekend. The new deaths increased the countywide death toll since the pandemic began to 23,930.

The county also reported another 273 COVID cases, while Long Beach health officials added 38 and Pasadena two, bringing the overall pandemic total to 1,234,242.

According to state figures, there were 400 people hospitalized due to COVID in the county as of today, up from 386 on Sunday, with 97 people in intensive care, down from 98 Monday.

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