County of Marin - News Releases - Switch to Orange Tier

For Immediate Release
March 23, 2021

Marin Progresses from Red Tier to Orange

Improved COVID-19 indicators prompt a more open economy

San Rafael, CA – The State of California has announced that Marin County will be moving from “red” to “orange” status in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, effective Wednesday, March 24.

The move from tier 2 or “substantial risk” status to the less restrictive tier 3 or “moderate risk” level is based on consecutive weeks of progress in Marin’s coronavirus case statistics. Marin joins Santa Clara and San Francisco as Bay Area counties moving to tier 3 this week. San Mateo County achieved orange status on March 17.

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Red spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. While local COVID-19 case rates have condinued to improve over the past month, Marin County Public Health fears that springtime travel could lead to a spike in cases.
The primary changes allowed under the state order as Marin moves into Tier 3:
  • Retail & grocery stores: can expand indoor capacity to 100%
  • Restaurants – indoor dining: can expand indoor capacity to 50% or 200 people (whichever is fewer)
  • Museums & movie theaters: can expand indoor capacity to 50% or 200 people (whichever is fewer)
  • Houses of worship: can expand indoor capacity to 50% or 200 people (whichever is fewer)
  • Weddings/funerals: can expand indoor capacity to 50% or 200 people (whichever is fewer)
  • Family recreation / entertainment facilities: can expand indoor capacity to 25%
  • Gyms & fitness studios: can expand indoor capacity to 25% and reopen indoor pools.
  • Breweries/wineries that do not serve food: can expand indoor capacity to 25% or 100 people (whichever is fewer)
  • Bars that do not serve food: can operate outdoors only
  • Non-essential offices may reopen (but working remotely is still encouraged)
  • Higher education: can expand indoor capacity to 50% for indoor lectures

Changes to business sector guidelines are available on the Marin Recovers website or the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy website.

In August 2020, the state introduced its Blueprint for a Safer Economy, a four-tier framework by which counties are measured for loosening and tightening restrictions on social activities and business operations. Sectors of business can progressively open more operations with moves up the list toward the final stage, yellow tier 4. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) assigns each county to a tier on a weekly basis based on two county-level factors: the total number of new cases, and the percent of new cases among those tested. A county must spend at least 21 days in any tier before advancing to a less restrictive one. As Marin experienced last year, counties have to tighten back up if conditions worsen.

While case rates have continued to improve over the past month, public health officials caution residents that more work is needed to achieve the next milestone.

“The next four weeks are pivotal for us,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin’s Public Health Officer. “We saw an uptick in cases last week and with variant cases increasing, we don’t want to drop the ball before we reach the goal line. Letting your guard down puts us at risk of slipping backward. While pandemic fatigue is real, we must stay the course to help Marin reach tier 4.”

Public Health recommends mask wearing, physical distancing, and frequent hand washing when in public, and to considering testing prior to, and quarantining after, travel outside of the Bay Area. Free, same-day COVID-19 testing is available across the county, and anyone who comes into frequent contact with members of the public should consider getting tested at least once a month. See Public Health’s testing webpage for a list of locations.

Meanwhile, vaccinations continue throughout the county. Nearly 48% of Marin residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. See Public Health’s vaccination webpage for the latest information.

Follow the latest COVID-19 surveillance figures in Marin County on the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website. Register online to receive a daily COVID-19 update from Marin HHS.


Laine Hendricks
Public Information Officer
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite #325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7496
Email: Laine Hendricks
County Administrator website