Category: WWI News

Temporary Covid allowances for wineries have expired

As Washington State’s pandemic order was lifted as of September 30, 2022, temporary allowances for wineries that were in place have now expired. One we know of significant importance to our members was:

  • The MAST 13 permit which allowed 18-20-year-olds to pre-pour samples, flights, and glasses of wine or beer for customers away from the customer’s table instead of having to pour wine or beer at the customer’s table. A person 21 years or older must be on duty supervising the sale. Washington Wine Institute is working with the LCB on rulemaking to make these changes permanent based on feedback from WWI members being favorable towards these allowances.

Curbside and home delivery is still allowed after the passage of HB 1480 in 2021 that created three-year temporary allowances for to-go sales from the tasting room, curbside service, and home delivery sales were allowed to continue.

Washington State Labor and Industries Education Minute 

COVID 19 Basic Requirements for All Workplaces 

The Washington Wine Institute has partnered with the Washington State Labor and Industries (L&I) agency for 2022-2023 to provide our members, and at certain times, the whole WA wine industry with educational opportunities and consistent communications on our state’s laws and rules around wages, labor practices, workplace safety, and all the elements of running a business that is regulated by L&I.

Today, we bring you a reminder of what L&I requires of all employers related to COVID-19.

At a minimum, all employers must do the following:

  1. Keep workers known or suspected to have COVID-19 from working around others by following appropriate isolation guidance as outlined by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).
  2. Provide hand washing facilities and supplies, and regularly clean and sanitize surfaces.
  3. Educate workers about COVID-19 prevention in the language they understand best.
  4. Provide written notice of potential COVID-19 exposure within one business day to all workers, and the employers of subcontracted workers, who were at the same work site as a person who tested positive (without disclosing the person’s identity).
  5. Report COVID-19 outbreaks to L&I within one business day when they involve 10 or more workers at a workplace or job site with more than 50 workers.
  6. Address COVID-19 notification, reporting, and prevention measures in the employer’s workplace-specific, written Accident Prevention Program or equivalent safety program.
  7. Allow workers to voluntarily wear masks (respirators, medical procedure masks, or cloth face coverings) and personal protective equipment (PPE) as long as it doesn’t create a safety or security issue.

Where masks are still required:

  1. In health care settings, including long-term care settings (home/hospice) and correctional facilities.
  2. The healthcare mask sign is also available in Russian, Spanish & Vietnamese.

Uniform Law Commission’s DTC Wine Shipping Proposal For States

Nothing Changes and WWI is Prepared to Push Back

This past week some of our members may have seen news articles covering a recent DTC wine shipping proposal that is coming from a non-profit group called the Uniform Law Commission (ULC). Below is an update on this work by our colleagues at WineAmerica, who work every day to watch our back within the halls of Congress as well as anything political or regulatory that impacts American wineries. If you are not a WineAmerica member yet, we strongly encourage you to join and help strengthen their efforts in Washington D.C. As stated well below, the work done in tracking this issue, removing the worst parts of the proposal if adopted, and now preparing to defend DTC in our state capital (and all 47 state capitals where winery DTC shipping is allowed) is an excellent example of the value you receive as a WWI member as well as being part of WineAmerica. Make no mistake, as we have done many times in the past, we WILL be ready if any attempts are made to threaten our DTC wine shipping privileges during the 2023 legislative session and beyond.

The Uniform Law Commission is a non-profit group of lawyers from around the country who draft and develop laws for state legislatures to adopt. The idea is that standardized laws are better for states in order to avoid confusion. Approximately three years ago they started looking into DTC shipping of beer and spirits, but that morphed to looking primarily at existing wine DTC laws. This was done without any real input from the wine industry. We must stress that this is only a model law. It does not change any state laws regarding DTC shipping as it has not been introduced in any state legislature. However, the ULC does recommend that states should adopt this legislation.

We must stress that this is merely a proposal that was approved by the ULC. No state laws have changed, but we need to be vigilant as an industry to make sure that our hard won DTC rights are not rolled back. This is a great example of the value of winery trade associations on both state and national levels, as well as the value of WineAmerica.

 

WA Wine License Plate

The new WA Wine specialty license plate goes into effect November 1, 2022, so set your calendars for 11/1/22 to put your request in for a new license plate honoring our state’s wine industry. We want to thank the incredible energy and hard work of our prime sponsor Rep. Chambers, our friends in the tourism industry pushing alongside us to get the bill done, and every WWI member and WA winery that signed the petition, sent requests out to their wine clubs and colleagues to sign the petition, those that signed in with support on the bill throughout the legislative process, and all other efforts that got HB 1530 to the finish line this year.

Updates to Rules for Dogs in Wineries

The WA State Department of Health recently updated the Food Code, which includes updates for dogs in food establishments including domestic winery licenses (wineries) and outdoors at food establishments (beer/wine restaurant license). Here’s a quick overview of the changes:

Outdoor eating areas

Restaurants that allow dogs in the outdoor serving area need to:

  1. Submit a plan to their local health department and get approval in advance.
  2. The dogs must go directly to outdoor area.
  3. The outdoor area that allows dogs can’t be used for food or drink preparation.
  4. No service ware storage or dish washing is allowed in the outdoor area.

Indoor

The Legislature passed a law with new rules for establishments like winery tasting rooms that don’t have food production and have a limited food selection. For these establishments:

  1. A pre-approved plan is not required.
  2. Signage is required saying dogs are allowed inside.
  3. You must provide notice to your local health department.

Our friends at the WA Hospitality Association partnered with the Dept of Health to put together this short video explaining the changes.

WA Wine License Plate Petition: Sign and Spread the Word

For the past two years, Rep. Kelly Chambers (R-Puyallup) who owns a vineyard in the Chelan wine region, has introduced legislation creating a specialty license plate celebrating the Washington wine industry. Revenue generated from purchases of the license plate will go towards statewide tourism-related efforts, and specifically we are pushing for the funding to support marketing our many Washington wine regions.

WWI actively supports Rep. Chambers efforts and will be working with her to get a bill passed during the 2022 legislative session, and we need our members help! Below is a link to the online petition created to gather enough signatures to qualify for serious consideration by the legislature. We need at least 3,500 signatures, and exceeding this goal will certainly show Olympia that the idea has a ton of support and will be a revenue generator for our state.

Please take a moment to sign the petition and share with your wine team. If you are willing, we would also be grateful for members who can share the petition on their social media accounts and/or to their wine club lists. Finally, we are printing some flyers with QR codes directing people to the online peititon for wineries to post in their winery tasting room(s), so if you would like us to send you one or more posters just let us know!

WA Wine License Plate Petition

Statewide Mask Mandate – Aug. 23rd, 2021

Governor Inslee announced a statewide mask mandate for all indoor spaces to go into effect Monday, August 23. This mandate includes those vaccinated and unvaccinated. For wineries and tasting rooms, everyone should wear a face covering anytime they are not actively eating or drinking.

Exemptions to the mask requirement are limited to office spaces not easily accessible to the public and small, private indoor gatherings where everyone is vaccinated. 

The Governor also announced a vaccination requirement for employees working in K-12, most childcare and early learning, and higher education.

We will continue to work with our industry partners to provide updates and information to best support you during this time. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of help in any way.

 

June 30, 2021 Updated Guidance

Governor Inslee released a statement yesterday afternoon reaffirming that businesses may mostly return to business-as-usual effective today Wednesday, June 30th. Updated guidance was also released. You can read more about the Governor’s announcement in his accompanying press release.

Indoor and outdoor guidance effective June 30

Effective 12:01 AM on June 30, all industry sectors previously covered by guidance in the Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery or the Safe Start Reopening Plan may return to usual capacity and operations, with limited exceptions for large indoor events (any event with more than 10,000 simultaneous participants in an indoor, enclosed space.)

Reopening guidance:

  1. Vaccine verification/negative testing: For Wineries please see guidance below specific to employers in our industry
  2. Capacity limitations: No restrictions in restaurants, bars, stores, businesses, theaters etc. (except large indoor events)
  3. For Wineries, this includes the return use of our bar area!
  4. Physical distancing: No requirements
  5. Facial coverings: Not required for vaccinated individuals, unless the business chooses to require them
  6. Travelers: Follow CDC recommendations

Guidance Specific to Employers Regarding Fully Vaccinated vs. Not, including Masks, Methods for Vaccine Verification, and More

Requirements for places of employment issued by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries have been updated herePlease read these carefully and thoroughly! This resource includes:

  1. Detailed options for fully vaccinated workers to go without a mask
  2. Methods for verification of worker vaccination status
  3. Employers must be able to show the process used to verify employee vaccination status. However, they do not need to keep an actual copy of the employee’s vaccination records. Acceptable types of verification include:
    1. Vaccine card or photo of vaccine card
    2. Documentation from a health care provider
    3. State immunization information system record
    4. A hard copy or electronically signed self-attestation from the employee.
  4. Choices workers have to continue to mask up
  5. And other updated guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the job and help employers meet their obligations to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

From all of us at the Washington Wine Institute, we want to say a big “THANK YOU” to every one of our members for your amazing ability to stay nimble, creative, and do whatever was necessary to both keep your employees and customers safe during the pandemic while also working tirelessly to keep your doors open and wine sales happening to the extent possible.

When March 16, 2020 brought us a full business shutdown and the future became very unknown, we went to work and never stopped pushing within our Governor’s office, LCB, Dept of Health, Labor and Industries, Department of Commerce, and all state agencies to advocate as aggressively as possible for our members including pushing back on harmful ideas and constantly pitching ways they can accept temporary sales and operation rules to help us survive the pandemic. From curbside service, to home delivery, to (sometimes very) creative ways to utilize our outdoor spaces, to “open air dining” allowances so we can use our permanent spaces, and so much more. We also tried to provide consistent and timely communications and sent over 40 pandemic-related emails since March 2020 as a commitment make sure we provided as much support and guidance as possible.

We hope this work and effort helped your winery these past very difficult 15 months. Your team at WWI could not have done this work without your investment in us via dues and your many phone calls, emails, attendance at webinars, and the many ways we got through the business restrictions portion of the pandemic together. We have a lot more to do as we look forward to the rest of 2021 and into 2022, and we are humbled to have every one of our members and incredibly grateful for your positive support and expert guidance.

Vino For Vaccines Incentive Program

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, in partnership with Governor Inslee’s office, state, and local health officials, created a very temporary COVID alcohol incentive allowance to support the on-going public health COVID-19 vaccination effort! Through June 30th, WA wineries, breweries, restaurants, and other liquor licensees can voluntarily choose to participate by hosting a vaccination clinic at your winery and/or satellite tasting rooms or by providing a purchased alcohol-based incentive for a customer who can show proof they received a COVID vaccine shot between May 15-June 30. This is a completely voluntary incentive-based effort to get more vaccines in arms so our state can fully reopen once we hit 70% of eligible WA residents have at least one vaccine dose administered.

Host a pop-up vaccination clinic at your winery and/or satellite tasting room(s)

We can help you partner with your local health department to schedule a pop-up vaccination event at your winery and/or tasting rooms in June. Please note, pop-up clinics will be dependent on local health capacity and they may not be able to accommodate all requests. Complete the form via this link to register and we will be in touch soon to help you get all you need to successfully host a pop up vaccine site at the winery or tasting room(s).

Wineries who would like to provide some incentive between now and June 30 but are not able to host a vaccine site, please email us at josh@wwi.wine with a good contact name and we will be available to help assist your team with any help, questions, or other to feel confident as you participate in this vaccination effort. Again, this entire effort is completely voluntary. The goal is to promote vaccinations and responsible wine tasting experiences so our state can fully reopen.

Compliance

The Liquor & Cannabis Board has adopted a temporary advisement to make compliance for this event supporting public health easier. On-premises liquor establishments may offer one alcoholic beverage at no cost to customers with proof of vaccination under the following conditions:

  1. The customer provides proof to their server that they were vaccinated (first or second vaccination) between May 15, and June 30, 2021 (licensees may choose a window of time between the vaccination date and when the drink can be redeemed, as long as the vaccination was completed within the allowed time period);
  2. Customers are limited to one drink;
  3. The liquor establishment can provide the drink, or a non-industry member sponsor may pay for the drink;
  4. The drink and taxes are paid for at cost of production by the licensee or a non-industry sponsor; and
  5. Advertisements and public information provided by licensees related to drink with vaccination promotions may not contain the words “free” or “complimentary” but may indicate a drink will be purchased on the customer’s behalf with proof of vaccination.

This allowance will expire July 1, 2021. For additional questions, please contact LCB Customer Service at (360) 664-1600, or your enforcement officer.

 

Governor Inslee Announces A Plan Towards A Full Reopening

Governor Inslee announced a plan to move forward in his Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery plan.

On Tuesday, May 18, all counties moved or stayed in Phase 3, which allows indoor service at 50% capacity and a limit of 10 people per table.

In addition, the Governor announced the new strategy for reopening will be focused on vaccination rates. He expects the state will entirely reopen on June 30, or sooner if 70% of eligible Washington residents receive at least their first vaccine. As soon as this happens, COVID restrictions on most industries – including eating and drinking establishments – will be lifted.

Mask Guidelines
The Governor also announced that Washington will adopt the CDC’s new federal guidelines for masks. This new guidance is for fully vaccinated people, meaning people who are two weeks removed from their second shot of Pfizer or Moderna or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The state will work with the Department of Health and Labor & Industries to update our guidance documents as soon as possible.

…..effective immediately with the exception of Seattle/King County,

  1. Businesses are not required to enforce masking for non-vaccinated patrons. This is consistent with our current mask order
  2. Businesses are not required to check vax cards or any other proof of vaccination
  3. Businesses may still adopt a policy that masks are required for all patrons and a policy to check for proof of vaccination