Posted on January 28, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun
A group of Napa and Sonoma County restaurants and wineries today withdrew its lawsuit against Governor Gavin Newsom for California’s “needless ban” on outdoor dining.
In the January 19 suit, The Wine Country Coalition for Safe Reopening alleged that the state’s ban on outdoor dining and wine tasting was unfair, arbitrary, and unscientific, and has resulted in “devastating” effects on local businesses.
At the time the Coalition filed its suit, all outdoor dining and wine tasting was banned in the Bay Area, including Napa and Sonoma counties, where most of the 60-plus Coalition members are located.
On January 25, Newsom lifted the state’s stay-at-home order, thus ending the ban on outdoor dining and wine tasting. The Coalition lawsuit was “voluntarily dismissed” this morning.
“We were gratified that the Governor ended this needless ban on outdoor dining and wine tasting, but we will be ready to refile our lawsuit if the ban is imposed again,” said Carl Dene of Sam’s General Store and spokesperson for the Coalition. “We support all efforts to limit the spread of COVID, but there is simply no data that shows outdoor dining and wine tasting contribute to the spread, so we are happy to see the Governor following the science.”
The Coalition said its members had collectively invested millions of dollars to comply with prior regulations and operate outdoors safely for their customers and employees. “But California imposed a new blanket ban on outdoor dining, even while it continued to allow retailers like big-box stores to operate in much riskier indoor settings.”
The Coalition asserted that the ban was causing long-term economic hardship especially on their employees, who were forced to undergo countless layoffs and furloughs as restaurants and wineries closed permanently around the region.
“The fundamental request in our lawsuit was that he simply follow the science regarding outdoor dining and wine tasting — neither of which has been shown to contribute to the spread of COVID-19 — and end the ban,” said Cynthia Ariosta of Pizzeria Tra Vigne, speaking for the group.
“All of us are dedicated to protecting our employees’ and customers’ health and welfare,” Ariosta said. “The investments we had already made to our outdoor dining areas, fortunately, allowed us to reopen quickly and safely. We are just gratified that we can return to our work and to serving our communities”
Wine Country Coalition for Safe Reopening was formed in December as an unincorporated association headquartered in Calistoga.
Group members include: Indian Springs Resort, Brannan Cottage Inn and adjoining café Sam’s General Store, Tre Posti, Costeaux French Bakery, Amizetta winery, Trancas Steakhouse, AVOW, Quilt & Co., Fumé Bistro, Lovina restaurant, The Calistoga Inn Restaurant and Brewery, Panorama Baking, Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, Biagio Artisan Meats, Farmhouse Inn, Vaughn Duffy Wines, Olabisi Wines, Pizzeria Tra Vigne, and others.