COVID-19 Update 10/08/20: Still Not Reopened
Nothing has changed since our COVID-19 update last month, except another month has passed.
This latest update on the pandemic and our business does not bring any news regarding a set reopening date for us. At this time we still cannot operate our wine tours. However we remain hopeful that we will return sooner than later. We are anxious to be open again and sharing our beautiful wine country with all of you! But for now, we have to remain patient and continue to wait…
What’s Happening in California and Sonoma County?
California’s reopening plan: “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.” Per the state pandemic website, https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/ :
“The Blueprint for a Safer Economy replaces the County Data Monitoring List for determining what business can and cannot open.
So why change? We learned a lot over the first several months of the pandemic about COVID-19 and how it spreads. For example, we know how much safer outdoor activities are than indoor ones and that it’s critical everyone wears a mask to limit the spread of the disease. This blueprint incorporates what we’ve learned.
The Blueprint for a Safer Economy is the next evolution of our response. We’ve revised the criteria and the time between changing tiers. We’ve made it easy for counties to see how changes affect the disease’s trajectory and for businesses and customers to plan ahead. And we’ve given Californians one place to look up whether a business or activity is allowed near them.”
The 4 color coded tiers:
Activities/businesses with lower risks of spreading COVID-19 are allowed to open sooner. Higher-risk activities/businesses aren’t allowed until later tiers. An activity or business’s tier depends on whether it can:
- Accommodate mask wearing at all times (for example, eating and drinking requires removing masks)
- Allow physical distance between individuals from different households
- Limit the number of people per square foot
- Limit time that an individual is at the business or activity
- Limit time of exposure
- Limit mixing of people from different households
- Limit amount of physical interactions of visitors/patrons
- Increase airflow (such as operating outdoors or opening windows and doors)
- Limit activities known to increase virus spread (like singing, shouting and heavy breathing)
Sonoma County remains on the highest level (purple – widespread).
The complex process is not something we need to fully explain here. For more information, and what is currently allowed/not allowed in Sonoma County, visit the government website:
Tiers Explained: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/COVID19CountyMonitoringOverview.aspx
Tier Map of CA: https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/
Are Wineries Operating?
Many are, some are not. Wineries in both the widespread category (which Sonoma County is currently in) and the next category down (substantial) may only be open for outdoors with modifications. Add in our current fires (poor air quality) and unusual excessive heat warnings, outdoors can be challenging.
In order for tastings to move indoors, the county has to be in the Moderate category. Then, the wineries may move indoors with modifications, but with only 25% capacity. Lastly, in the Minimal category, they can be indoors with modifications at 50% capacity.
Many of our winery partners are attempting outdoor tastings. However, some have decided to temporarily close their tasting rooms until the new year. Hopefully by then, the county will be in a better place with the pandemic containment. And fire threats causing poor air quality and weather concerns (excessive heat and then winter temps and rain) will be reduced as well.
Passenger Carrier Licensing and Rules
What are passenger carriers? Companies engaged in “passenger transport for hire.” These include taxis, ride sharing companies, limos, shuttles, tour companies, etc.
In conjunction with the above guidelines, both the CDC and Department of Public Health and Safety have provided reopening guidelines for all business types, which includes passenger carriers. The CA Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is the licensing board for passenger carriers (which we are), and have formally adopted these guidelines and require all licensees to comply or they will have their operating licenses suspended or revoked.
For the full guidelines:
Also per the CA guidelines for reopening passenger carriers, “pooled rides” (different travelers sharing one vehicle) “should be suspended until further public health guidance is provided for restarting such rides”. This means that only people from the same group may travel together. Which for us means, we cannot reopen our shared group tours at this time.
What’s Happening with Wine Country Journeys?
Unfortunately for now, we remain unable to resume our tours and have cancelled all tours for October. We continue to hold on to positivity and hope to begin our tours as soon as it is safe to do so. It has been a long 7 months so far…but we will eventually return, and can’t wait!
Wine Country Journeys will be back!!!
Our top priority remains the health and safety of our workers, guests and the greater community. We hope everyone is doing the responsible thing and helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 to save lives and shorten the time it will take for us all to reopen. We’re doing our part here and looking forward to seeing you in the future! Until then, wear your face masks and stay physically distanced.