Credit: Sydney Ozawa | Mustang News

San Luis Obispo County will be in the less restrictive Orange Tier starting Wednesday, April 28 at 8 a.m. — making way for increased reopening of businesses, activities and Cal Poly’s in-person graduation ceremonies. 

Announced by County Public Health on Tuesday, April 27, the shift from Red Tier to the moderate Orange Tier allows for greater indoor business operations. 

While each industry has specific guidance from the State, the shift means some San Luis Obispo businesses will be able to open for the first time, while others can pick up their indoor operations even more. 

Restaurants, movie theaters, places of worship, museums, zoos and aquariums can all open indoor activities with 50% capacity. Gyms, fitness centers, wineries and breweries can open with 25% capacity. 

If the county maintains Orange Tier or lower, Cal Poly can also fulfill its promised in-person graduation ceremonies. 

In addition to an official virtual graduation, President Jeffrey Armstrong announced on April 15 the prospect of in-person commencement ceremonies for 2021 graduates if the County is in Orange Tier or lower at the time of graduation. 

The University’s plan is to hold separate in-person ceremonies for each college department on June 12 and June 13, with limited guest capacity. 

Other gatherings and events have fewer restrictions, and the County provides checklists to help people determine how to gather safely. 

County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein said being indoors is still a “substantial” risk, especially for unvaccinated people. 

“We are grateful to see things moving in the right direction,” Borenstein said in a County Public Health press release. “We cannot lose sight of the end goal. To fully restore health to our community, we must remain vigilant: get vaccinated against COVID-19, maintain personal safety measures and get tested if you have symptoms so we can beat this thing.”

Though the County’s COVID-19 numbers seemed to meet Red Tier criteria last week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reviewed data discrepancies and included Cal Poly’s testing numbers in the county’s overall testing volume, concluding that the County’s numbers from last week actually met Orange Tier standards. 

A key factor was the adjusted case rate — which stands at 6.2 cases per 100,000 people. The case rate is adjusted lower because San Luis Obispo County conducts a greater number of COVID-19 tests than California’s median testing rate. 

Still, SLO’s case rates “have remained stable and are not declining as quickly as other surrounding counties” according to the County press release. 

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