As anticipated, Alameda County, which includes Berkeley, has met the COVID-19 cases and positivity rates metrics to be able to shift from purple to the less restrictive red tier. From Wednesday, March 10, many businesses will be able to re-open indoor operations, albeit under certain restrictions.

The adjusted daily new case rate per 100,000 residents in the county is now 4.8, with a testing positivity rate of 1.8%, and a health equity quartile positivity rate of 2.6%.

The following are the businesses and activities that are allowed to open indoors starting March 10, with capacity restrictions and modifications:

  • Restaurants: 25%  maximum capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
  • Retail: 50%  maximum capacity and food courts permitted with indoor dining restrictions
  • Grocery stores: full capacity while following retail industry guidance
  • Movie theaters: 25% maximum capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums: 25% maximum capacity
  • Gyms, fitness centers and studios (including at hotels): 10% maximum capacity and climbing walls are permitted

The shift in tier allows schools to reopen across all grades. Berkeley Unified announced Monday that it making in-person classes available for all elementary school students, five days a week starting on March 29. In a tweet Tuesday about the tier change, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín stressed his commitment to prioritizing frontline workers and educators for vaccinations and his desire to see all schools reopen.

In its press release about the announcement, Alameda County Health Officer Nicholas Moss struck a note of caution, however. “Alameda County’s case rate is on the decline and vaccinations of vulnerable residents and our frontline workers are progressing but the COVID-19 pandemic is not over,” he said. “As more activities and businesses open indoors and more people from different households mix, the risk of becoming infected increases. The majority of Alameda County residents have not been vaccinated, so we must continue to take precautions to keep each other safe.”

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...