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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Here’s everything that can reopen now that L.A. is in the yellow tier

Bars are back open indoors.

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano

Not counting a week and a half last June when they could briefly reopen, bars are finally back in Los Angeles after a year-plus closure. There are still some qualifiers to being “back”—you still can’t sit at the bar top and capacity is pretty limited—but we’re not about to deflate the fact that you can finally grab a pint or sip a cocktail indoors again without ordering food.

That change comes as L.A. County moves into the yellow tier, the least-restrictive phase in California’s reopening plan that allows for greater capacities at almost all types of venues. After maintaining a case rate below two per 100,000 people for two straight weeks, among a couple of other required metrics, the state officially bestowed L.A. with its yellow status on Tuesday. And now, the county will actually implement those new rules starting 12:01am on Thursday, May 6.

Even if you’ve already brushed up on the state’s yellow tier guidelines, L.A. County’s are slightly stricter in some instances, so here’s everything you need to know:

Restaurants: Restaurant capacity remains at 50% indoors, but there’s no longer a 200-person cap. Indoor seating is still limited to six people from a single household, while outdoors allows for up to eight people from three different households; if everyone’s vaccinated, those household requirements are dropped. TVs are allowed to be turned on, but live entertainment must remain outdoors.

Bars: Bars that don’t serve meals can reopen indoors for the first time at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is less. You can’t sit or be served at the bar, though, so you’ll have to find a table instead. The rest of the restaurant rules above also apply to bars.

Wineries, breweries and distilleries: For spots that don’t serve meals (the breweries that do are considered restaurants), they can open indoors at 50% capacity or 200 people, whichever is less. Like bars, the rest of the restaurant rules apply.

Movie theaters: Capacity remains at 50%, but the 200-person maximum cap is dropped—a major change for large movie palaces. Reserved batches of seats will need to stay six feet apart, but theaters can establish fully vaccinated sections where distancing isn’t required.

Family entertainment centers: Bowling alleys and escape rooms can increase their capacity to 50%.

Museums, zoos and aquariums: Museums can move to 75% capacity.

Gyms: Indoor capacity doubles to 50%. Steam rooms and saunas can reopen (this applies to hotels, too).

Retail: Stores, including malls, remain at 75%. The state technically allows for full capacity—as was also the case in the orange tier—but L.A. is keeping things smaller.

Offices: Though offices can be open at 75%, remote work is still encouraged, and strongly for those yet to be fully vaccinated.

Stadiums and outdoor performances: Venue max capacity increases to 67%, regardless of whether or not all guests are tested or vaccinated. They’re still limited to in-state attendees (or fully vaccinated out-of-state visitors).

Arenas and indoor performances: Capacities increase across the board, but the exact numbers depend on venue size and attendees’ vaccination status. For venues that fit fewer than 1,500 people, they can open at 25% capacity or 300 people; if all guests are tested or vaccinated, that bumps up to 50%. For larger venues, capacity increases to 10% or 2,000 people—or 50% if all guests are tested or vaccinated. These venues, too, are limited to in-state attendees or fully vaccinated out-of-state visitors.

Private events: For seated, ticketed events, functions with up to 200 people are allowed outdoors, or as many as 400 outdoors or 200 indoors if everyone is tested or vaccinated. 

Theme parks: Overall theme park capacity increases to 35%, but indoor capacity remains at 25% (other than restaurants, which can operate at 35%). Like performance venues, they’re still limited to in-state visitors (or, if a park chooses to do so, fully vaccinated out-of-state visitors). In addition, water parks can now open at 40%.

Though the state now allows venues across the board to increase their capacity by an additional 50% of their tier-specified maximum if everyone is tested or vaccinated, L.A. County has seemingly not adopted this in its orders, other than the few spots where it’s noted.

The move into the yellow tier follows shortly after the county implemented the CDC’s relaxed mask guidance, which allows for fully vaccinated people to go without a face covering in many outdoor settings (other than crowded events and at certain businesses where masks are still required).

So now that we’ve hit yellow, what’s next? Come June 15, California plans to eliminate its reopening tiers entirely. At that point, some limited restrictions may remain in place, like the mask mandate and requiring all attendees at large-scale events to be tested or vaccinated in order for them to operate at a higher capacity.

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