L.A. County: Breweries, wineries can reopen outdoors next week

Los Angeles County Seal.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to allow breweries and wineries to resume outdoor operations in one week.

Under the state’s guidelines, counties in the state’s most restrictive tier, like L.A. County, can operate wineries outdoors only with modifications, while bars, breweries and distilleries are to remain closed.

Other counties in Tier 1 had permitted breweries to open if they serve food, as that instead allows them to fall under the restaurant category, according to Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

“Breweries, bars and distilleries are all closed by the state, not a permitted activity in Tier 1 — unless they look more like a restaurant, and the way to look more like a restaurant would be to make sure you’ve had a meal program,” Ferrer said.

Previously, the county had interpreted these guidelines to mean that these establishments were those that are permitted by the Health Department to prepare and serve meals, meaning only those with restaurant licenses could resume service. However, those businesses without licenses and small kitchens have been struggling to survive. 

Public Health is expected to modify the health officer order, allowing these establishments to reopen for outdoor service if they partnered with a third-party permitted food vendor.

“This is an important step forward for businesses and employees throughout the county,” county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, said in a prepared statement. “As our case numbers have decreased, I have championed for breweries and wineries to reopen safely with necessary health protocols and guidance in place. I am pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate to seek solutions that will help support our communities.”

As with other businesses, these establishments are expected to abide by strict safety guidelines, including but not limited to: 

  • Outside operations;
  • Limited hours of operation;
  • Required reservations;
  • Appropriate social distancing;
  • All appropriate safety measures.

Public Health officials have yet to release specific guidelines and protocols as of the publication of this story.

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