COVID-19 Update 11/11/20: Not Reopening Until 2021
Another month has passed us by since our last COVID-19 Update…and during this time:
- Sonoma County remains in the highest risk tier
- COVID-19 continues to increase throughout the USA and other counties
- Winter months with colder weather have arrived.
Not only have we not been able to make the modifications required to reopen our business, but our wineries are only allowed to be open OUTDOORS with modifications. With the arrival of winter and the cold weather, their outdoor operations will become even more difficult for them.
Therefore, it is with heavy hearts that we announce we will not be reopening until sometime in 2021. And because of the uncertainty of “sometime”, we also have decided to no longer accept future reservations until we have a much clearer picture of when and how we will be able to safely reopen. We all remain hopeful for the day we can return to doing what we love – sharing beautiful Sonoma County Wine Country with all of our guests.
Our decision was based on several key factors, which we have broken down below.
What’s Happening in California
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)
Tier Map of CA: https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/
What’s Happening in Sonoma County
Sonoma County has remained in the highest (purple) tier since CA switched to this system several months ago. Here are the current stats for our county as of 11/11/20.
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
What’s happening with Sonoma Wineries
Wineries in both the widespread (purple) and substantial (red) tiers may only be open OUTDOORS with modifications. In order for tastings to move indoors, the county has to be in the Moderate (orange) tier. Then, the wineries may move indoors with modifications, but with only 25% capacity. Lastly, in the Minimal (yellow) tier, they can be indoors with modifications at 50% capacity.
Sonoma County still remains in the most restrictive purple tier (widespread). Many of our winery partners transitioned to outdoor tastings, while some decided to temporarily close their tasting rooms until the new year. However, now that we have entered into the colder fall/winter months, outdoor tastings will become even more difficult for the wineries to provide.
While tasting at wineries may be difficult or unavailable, we would like to remind everyone that you can help support our local wineries by ordering wine online! So stock up on your favorites! Or buy some to give as gifts.
What’s happening with tour companies
Tour companies are considered “passenger carriers” and licensed through the CA Public Utilities Commission. Passenger carriers are companies engaged in “passenger transport for hire.” These include taxis, ride sharing companies, limos, shuttles, tour companies, etc.
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?
As we mentioned at the beginning of this update, we will not be reopening until sometime in 2021. 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 9 months so far…but we will eventually return, and can’t wait!