News Flash

Menlo Park City News

Posted on: November 16, 2020

State moves San Mateo County back to Red Tier of reopening as COVID-19 cases rise

San Mateo County falls back to the more restrictive red Tier 2 effective Tuesday, November 17, 2020. This is in reference to the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan, which limits indoor dining as well as capacity and other limits are placed on businesses and activities.

Following an increase in coronavirus cases, the state of California moved San Mateo County back from the Orange Tier (Tier 3) where the risk level from the virus is considered “moderate” to “substantial” under the Red Tier (Tier 2). The setback affects a wide sector of businesses and adds to the urgency for all of us to follow health guidelines and not mix households indoors.

San Mateo County’s shift from the Orange Tier to the Red Tier is due to the increase in the county’s adjusted case rate, which is now 5.7 daily new cases per 100,000 population. That is more than double the adjusted case rate of 2.2 per 100,000 population from the November 9 tier determination.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced San Mateo County and numerous other counties across California have regressed due to rising case counts and other metrics. He cautioned that further restrictions may be implemented – including a potential curfew – if case counts do not come down.

To slow the spread of the virus, all businesses, organizations, child care facilities, schools and other operations that are allowed to open under the state’s COVID-19 blueprint must follow industry-specific health guidelines and adhere to local health orders that mandate face coverings and social distancing. 

The following is a brief outline of restrictions that take effect Tuesday in San Mateo County:


  • Indoor dining is limited to 25 percent of capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
  • Outdoor dining where social distancing is in place, takeout and delivery are still allowed

Places of worship

  • Places of worship can open indoors with maximum 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer

Indoor shopping, gyms, movie theaters, hair salons and barber shops

  • Indoor shopping malls can operate at 50 percent capacity
  • Movie theaters can operate at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer
  • Indoor gyms can operate at 10 percent capacity
  • Hair salons and barbershops can continue to operate with restrictions


The county’s transition back to the Red Tier (Tier 2) does not affect the operation of schools. Schools have been following the Pandemic Recovery Framework that involves layers of safety measures, and those in the county that have students back on campus for instruction and other activities are not experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19 and will continue to serve students on campus.

Given the value to students of in-person learning and engagement, schools should continue to follow their reopening plans and provide students with instruction and other activities on campus.

Family entertainment centers and playgrounds

Summary of Red Tier (Tier 2)

  • Restaurants indoors (max 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
  • All retail indoors (max 50 percent capacity)
  • Shopping centers, swap meets indoors (max 50 percent capacity, closed common areas)
  • Personal care services – hair and nail salons, barbershops (open with modifications)
  • Museums, zoos and aquariums (max 25 percent capacity)
  • Places of worship (max 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
  • Movie theaters in doors (max 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer)
  • Gyms and fitness centers indoors (max 10 percent capacity)

See the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy for details by business sector and activity.

Contact: Public Engagement Manager Clay Curtin