San Mateo County joins Yellow Tier reopening; mask guidelines aligned with state

by Contributed Content on May 11, 2021

The state of California announced that, beginning Wednesday, May 12, a multitude of indoor businesses and activities in San Mateo County can reopen or expand as the risk from COVID-19 is “minimal.”

The move to the state’s least restrictive yellow tier allows expanded capacity at restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, indoor businesses and a host of other operations. Bars that do not serve food can reopen indoors with a maximum capacity of 25 percent or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

This is San Mateo County’s first time in the yellow tier since the state last summer unveiled the color-coded Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The advance comes six weeks before Gov. Gavin Newsom has said the entire state may fully reopen on June 15.

The move into yellow officially takes effect at 12:01 a.m., Wednesday, May 12, 2021.

The state moved the county to the yellow tier based on the following metrics as calculated by the state.

  • Adjusted COVID-19 case rate has fallen to 1.8
  • Test positivity rate is 0.6%
  • Health equity quartile positivity rate is 1.3

The health equity quartile measures rates of infection with the virus in the county’s most disadvantaged communities based on the California Healthy Places Index.

The County of San Mateo fully aligns with the state’s industry guidance for operations and activities in the yellow tier.

Also, Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow has rescinded his June 17, 2020, order for social distancing guidelines and face covering requirements in favor of State guidance. The move allows San Mateo County to align with the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health. The CDPH issued its guidance for the use of face coverings on May 3, 2021.

In summary:

-For fully vaccinated persons, face coverings are not required outdoors except when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events or other similar settings.

-For unvaccinated persons, face coverings are required outdoors any time physical distancing cannot be maintained, including when attending crowded outdoor events, such as live performances, parades, fairs, festivals, sports events or other similar settings.

-In indoor settings outside of one’s home, including public transportation, face coverings continue to be required regardless of vaccination status, with certain exceptions.

Helpful links

  • COVID-19 vaccination clinic calendar lists countywide locations and times to receive a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Vaccine appointments are available at MyTurnCA four or more days before the date of the clinic — but appointments are not required.
  • COVID-19 testing, even for those fully vaccinated, remains essential to protecting public health. Get tested if you have been exposed to someone who is positive, if you have been in a crowd where people were not wearing masks, or if you have symptoms.


Beth May 11, 2021 at 8:56 pm

Can real estate open houses be held in the yellow tier?

Oli May 11, 2021 at 11:37 pm

Great news, thank you! It is about time to stop spreading fear. There is the following quote: A society full of fear and insecurity can be manipulated the most. For instance insurance companies work like that. Let’s live life folks!

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