SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Santa Clara County announced that restrictions on outdoor gatherings and youth sports are being relaxed as of Friday, Feb. 26, with additional changes expected once the county enters the Red Tier, possibly as soon as next week.

The county, currently in the Purple Tier, announced the changes Thursday citing progress made in vaccinating the community, along with declining COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations.

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“With vaccinations now reaching more broadly into the community, including over half of those age 65 and older, we are making significant progress in protecting our most vulnerable community members,” county health officer Dr. Sara Cody said in a statement.

Under the new guidance on outdoor gatherings, while the health officer “strongly recommends” the wearing of face coverings, they are only required outdoors when someone is within 6 feet of people outside one’s household. The guidance also states that singing at outdoor gatherings without a face covering is allowed, provided that they are at least 6 feet away from others.

The county also announced that it would follow state guidance on youth and rec sports, which allows for the resumption of many high school sports, including football. State guidance allows for high-contact outdoor sports to be played in the Purple or Red tiers when case rates are less than 14 per 100,000 and with regular testing of coaches and participants.

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Meanwhile, all indoor gatherings in Santa Clara County continue to be banned until the county enters the Red Tier, which could happen as soon as March 3.

Once the county enters the Red Tier, health officials said indoor dining and indoor gatherings would again be allowed. Specific details were not announced.

“We are very excited, we’ve been cooped up at home for a very long time,” said Willow Glen resident Nima Pakravan. He and his family were dining outdoors at their favorite sushi restaurant Thursday night when they heard the news about the county health department easing restrictions on outdoor activities and possibly moving back to indoor dining.

 

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KPIX correspondent Katie Nielsen contributed to this report