L.A. County to Reopen Breweries and Wineries

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On September 27, 2020, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors approved a motion to reopen breweries and wineries by October 6, 2020.  The reopening requires breweries and wineries to abide by strict safety guidelines, including but not limited to: outside operations, limited hours of operation, required reservations, appropriate social distancing, and all appropriate safety measures.  The motion directs the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to begin with permitting outdoor, reservation-only seating at breweries and then create a plan to increase capacity.

This decision was hotly debated and was ultimately decided on a 3-2 vote. 

The proponents of the motion, Supervisors Janice Hahn and Kathryn Barger noted:

“Since the “Safer at Home” order was issued by the Department of Public Health (DPH) in Los Angeles County (County), many industries and sectors of our economy have been detrimentally impacted. In order to balance people’s health and safety with their economic welfare, DPH has had to hold back the reopenings when it deemed the County was not ready to safely advance. There have been some industries that are currently allowed in Tier 1 that the County has yet to advance. As such, the County has periodically had stricter limitations than the State, including for breweries and wineries. DPH has striven to root all these decisions in scientific data; and we must carefully balance public health and safety with ensuring that businesses are not being forced to close.

Many small businesses across the County, including breweries and wineries, have been struggling to make ends meet as they have been forced to operate in a more restrictive business model. Given that the State of California allows breweries to partner with a third-party permitted food vendor to operate at a limited capacity outdoors, it would be prudent for the County to realign with the State and advance to this step.

While the County moves forward into this next step, it will be critical for the breweries and wineries to adhere to the public health protocols including, but not limited to masks, social/physical distancing, and regular cleanings. To start, DPH should establish outside operations for reservations only and assess the impact, if any, of these reopenings. DPH should also include a step-up plan for expanding the capacity/hours of operation.”

The Board of Supervisors received nearly 80 pages of comments by individuals and businesses, most of which called for the reopening of businesses and schools.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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