The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department announced on Tuesday that the county has reached the orange tier for the first time. This means more businesses can open inside with greater capacity.
“It's a wonderful day because it allows our community to move towards more normalcy,” said Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso.
Beginning Wednesday, Santa Barbara County’s movie theaters, places of worship, museums, and restaurants will be permitted to increase to 50% indoor capacity.
Retail will have no capacity limits, and bars will be able to operate outside even if they don’t serve food.
Gyms, breweries, wineries, and family entertainment centers will move to 25% capacity.
In Santa Maria, Costa De Oro Tasting Room Manager Collin Jackson said the orange tier also means they can open inside for the first time since March of last year.
“It looks like this 25% capacity, inside in the orange tier, is a good, healthy step in the right direction,” Jackson said.
Costa De Oro Tasting Room relied on outdoor seating only for the past 13 months.
“Moving into the summer, it's going to be nice outside,” Jackson added. “It's going to be nice having both as options."
Also in Santa Maria, the popular family entertainment center, Boomers, has had its arcade closed since the pandemic began.
“We actually have customers that come in just to play the arcade and they come in and they're disappointed that the arcade is not open,” said Boomers manager Nancy Parraguirre.
Parraguirre explained that the arcade is Boomers’ big money maker with birthday parties and groups.
“We have lost a lot of money with all those customers not wanting to stay or all the customers just doing something else instead,” Parraguirre said.
But for the first time in over a year, the family entertainment center will reopen this Friday.
Until then, Boomers has been preparing.
“[We’re] restocking games that have candy because we haven't been able to restock that, especially with candy expiring,” Parraguirre said.
Boomers’ staff is looking forward to reopening and to implementing COVID-19 protocols with cleanings of the arcade games happening at all hours of the day.
In the meantime, public health officials warn community members to not let their guards down even with eased restrictions.
Dr. Reynoso said, “We need to still be very careful and wear our mask and be diligent about social distancing and please, everyone, get vaccinated.”
Orange tier restrictions in Santa Barbara County will go into effect on Wednesday at 8 a.m.
For now, San Luis Obispo County is still in the red tier.