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By Miriam Raftery

March 16, 2021 (San Diego) – San Diego County will move from the purple tier into the less restrictive red tier starting tomorrow. The state notified county officials today of the change, which allows many businesses to reopen or expand capacity, though masks and social distancing are still required. Here are some of the changes:

  • Movie theaters can show indoor films at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
  • Restaurants can operate indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.
  • Gyms and fitness centers can open indoors at 10% capacity.  
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums can open indoors at 25% capacity.
  • Retail and shopping centers can operate indoors at 50% capacity.

“It is because of the efforts of our community that the County is able to move back into the Red Tier after four months of Purple Tier restrictions,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “However, the relaxing of restrictions should not encourage San Diegans to let their guard down. We are urging community members to continue to do their part, get vaccinated once they are eligible and take the necessary precautions to avoid getting and spreading COVID-19.”

San Diego’s testing positivity rate of 2.8% and the health equity rate is 4.2%, which are in the orange tier, but the adjusted case rate of 6.8% puts the region in the red tier.

However if San Diego continues to reduce its case rate, more reopenings could occur soon, since the state has indicated plans to allow slightly higher case rates after more vaccinations have been administered in communities with the highest rates, as measured by the health equity rate. The County must stay in the red tier and post two consecutive weeks of qualifying data to move into the less restrictive orange tier.

The reopenings are possible in large part due to the vaccine rollout.  To date, 16.7% of San Diegans age 16 and older are now fully immunized. Over 722,000 County residents have received at least one dose. For details on groups currently eligible and vaccination opportunities, visit

Along with San Diego, the counties of Los Angeles, Orange,Contra Costa, Sonoma, Sacramento, Riverside and Ventura will all be in the red tier by Wednesday.

Also, starting April 1st, the Padres will be allowed to reopen Petco Park for live audiences at 20% capacity.

It’s also expected that outdoor live events such as concerts will be allowed, with limited capacity and social distancing. In addition, amusement parks can reopen at 15% capacity, with additional restrictions, to in-state visitors online and tickets purchased online.

View the entire “Blueprint For a Safer Economy” that lists the activity and business tiers here. 

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