Outdoor wineries allowed to stay open

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LA MESA, Calif. – A last-minute clarification by county officials will allow wineries with outdoor tasting areas to remain open even if they don’t serve food.

Bars wineries and breweries have been ordered to close due to the recent uptick in COVID-19 outbreaks, and businesses in the La Mesa area have been hit extra hard due to the protests that turned violent late last month.

“[We] left the plywood on the windows for a couple of weeks out of precaution,” said Mike McWilliams, the owner of Wine Works in La Mesa. “Got that opened up for just two weeks.”

McWilliams thought he was going to have to shut down his wine bar again because of a new county order issued on Monday, but a last-minute clarification is allowing him to remain open.

“The restriction shall not be applicable to outdoor service of wine at a winery,” said county Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten Tuesday, clarifying the order that is forcing most establishments that don’t serve food with their alcoholic beverages to close.

Other local bars, breweries and indoor wineries are trying to figure out workarounds that could help them stay open. One that Wooten suggested Tuesday was to partner with a food truck so customers could order food with their drinks.

County officials decided to shut down establishments that serve only alcohol after determining that indoor bars, restaurants and breweries are helping drive an increase in coronavirus cases.

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