This week, Governor Inslee announced more details about the State’s Safe Start plan, which is a phased in approach to reopening Washington’s economy. While the Stay at Home order has been extended through the end of May, Safe Start outlines a plan for reopening in four phases. Phase 1 begins this week.
We have been working with the Governor’s office through all available and appropriate channels, including industry partners and the Liquor & Cannabis Board, to determine what phase wineries will be included in. While we continue to work diligently to provide you with more clarity and confirmation, right now, it appears that wineries that are able to adhere to social distancing requirements will be included in Phase 2.
There will be at least three weeks between each phase. State leaders and health experts will be closely monitoring specific data and metrics to determine when we can safely move from one phase to the next.
Under Phase 2, food and beverage establishments will be required to adhere to these basic requirements:
- Provide some form of table seating
- Not allow people to sit at the bar or congregate in the bar area
- Comply with social distancing and health requirements of Phase 2 restaurants and taverns
Phase 2 social distancing and health requirements for restaurants and taverns will include:
- 50% capacity limit
- 6-foot distancing of patrons and employees
- Parties no larger than 5
In Phase 3, on-premise activities may resume at 75% capacity and bar areas may open at 25% capacity. We will be working to provide additional context for these capacity limitations and what that will look like for your wineries.
Please note that until Phase 2 is announced, wineries must adhere to the same restrictions that we have been under since the Stay Home order was enacted.
Curbside & Delivery Rules:
We understand that many consumers will want to continue to limit contact for some time and these services will be an important part of your operations, even as on-premise activities start to resume. We are working with the LCB in efforts to extend all temporary curbside and delivery allowances currently available to liquor licensees. More info to come.
What You Can Do Now to Prepare:
The phases call for adequate social distancing measures and health standards. The Governor will soon announce additional guidelines issued for compliance for reopenings. The Washington Wine industry will be actively working with the Governor’s office, state agencies, and other hospitality field stakeholders to finesse initial outlined requirements and develop any additional criteria required for reopenings. We are also working in coordination with California, Oregon, and Colorado on winery-specific guidelines to be as consistent and helpful as we can. Stay tuned for more information as this work progresses.
The Safe Start policy plan can be found here. We encourage you to read the entirety of this plan, but specifically see page 4 for employee requirements. These requirements will apply to all businesses that reopen.
We encourage you to take this time to prepare for the day we get the green light for Phase 2. Please know that these are merely suggestions to get you started and subject to change as we fill in the details and fine tune requirements. You may want to start taking these steps:
- Consider if starting your tasting room opening by appointment only is the best way to control customer safety, traffic flow, and get started again.
- Consider providing pre-filled samples to minimize customers returning to the bar area or staying longer at the tasting room then needed.
- Space tables 6 feet apart.
- If you have large, communal tables, begin blocking off 6-foot sections between parties.
- Remove bar stools from bar area and take steps to properly socially distance in front of the bar to discourage customers from congregating in the bar area.
- Evaluate staffing levels to accommodate table service until bar area operations can resume.
- Consider how to manage high traffic areas, such as entries/waiting areas for seating and bathrooms.
- Source masks and gloves for employees.
- Develop a system for reservations and encourage customers to make reservations in advance of visits.
- Develop policies for screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms.
- Identify areas where you might be able to expand your premise to accommodate social distancing (i.e. additional outdoor seating areas) and begin working with LCB licensing to approve those changes.
There are many pieces to come together in the coming weeks. We are here for you. Know that we are advocating for your winery and will continue to provide updates and information to support you as you prepare for reopening of on-premise activities.
This is an unprecedented time and we understand there are a lot of questions. Our goal is to streamline the collection of questions and capture them all in one place so that we can share your questions with the appropriate authorities and create a helpful FAQ for all wineries to utilize. We have created this simple form for you to submit your questions through, but always feel free to email us directly as well.