Sacramento County advanced to the less restrictive Orange Tier 3 status on June 1 after spending three months in Red Tier 2.

In late May, the county’s COVID case rate remained below six new cases per 100,000 residents for two consecutive weeks, all of which met the state’s requirement for the orange tier. As of June 2, the case rate was 4.8 cases per 100,000 residents.

This advancement arrived two weeks before the state is expected to lift the restrictions of its Blueprint for a Safer Economy plan across California on June 15.

Sacramento County was among eight counties that were moved into looser tier statuses this week.

“It is still important for Sacramento County to reach this lower tier before June 15, which signifies there is lower risk of spreading COVID-19 in the community and will increase capacity that much earlier for businesses,” the county’s public health officer, Dr. Olivia Kasirye said in a June 1 press statement.

In the meantime, more businesses in Sacramento County can expand their customer capacities. Restaurants can now operate at 50% capacity instead of the previous 25% limit. Bars can serve customers outdoors without having to serve food to them.  Fitness centers can boost their indoor capacity to more than 35% if customers show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or a vaccination card. That rule also applies to other indoor venues such as bowling alleys and family entertainment centers.

Although the county’s tier restrictions have been loosened, the state’s mask mandate still remains in effect until June 15.

Kasirye encourages more Sacramento County residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19. She said that vaccinated individuals do not have to quarantine themselves if they show no symptoms after being exposed to the virus. The public health officer also said that vaccinated people should still practice social distancing and wear a mask if they visit unvaccinated people who are high risk for having a severe COVID illness.

Since March 2020, Sacramento County had 106,570 confirmed COVID cases and 1,715 COVID-related deaths, according to the county public health department. Of the county’s infections, 103,422 cases had likely recovered or 21 days have passed since they were diagnosed.

Elk Grove, which has a population of more than 174,000 residents, had 12,576 confirmed cases and 153 deaths since March 2020, according to the county’s COVID-19 data.