Napa, Sonoma, and Solano counties are all talking about reopening stores and restaurants to some degree, yet none meet the requirement of no COVID-19 deaths in two weeks.
A close look at SFist’s daily Bay Area Coronavirus Information updates does show that our nearby wine country neighbors Napa, Solano, and Sonoma Counties have some of the lowest infection counts and fatalities, and certainly the flattest curves. But none of them meet Governor Gavin Newsom’s reopening criteria of no COVID-19 deaths for 14 consecutive days, and 1 or fewer active cases per 10,000 residents. But we may need to cue the “whine country” jokes, as an Eater SF roundup details how wine country counties are petitioning the state for permission to reopen their restaurants, tasting rooms, shops, and other businesses.
Let’s first look at Sonoma County, where the Press Democrat reports that child care facilities reopened today — not just for essential workers like here in SF, but for everyone with the little rugrats. Stores are allowed to do curbside pickup, and pet groomers and car washes can operate too, for what it’s worth. But restaurants are still not allowed to reopen for dine-in, and on Monday night, the county board of supervisors will vote on a variance request that they would send to Newsom for approval.
“It’s a reasonable request with the understanding that we protect the lives of the people who live here first and foremost, but we also acknowledge that health is beyond just physical,” Sonoma county supervisor Shirlee Zane said to the Chronicle.
That same Chronicle report points out that Napa County is making similar requests, specifically singling out wineries and tasting rooms. Napa has a (comparatively) miniscule case count at 83 as of today, and not even one person currently hospitalized. But they have had one death this past Sunday, so it’s an interesting test case on whether Newsom’s 14-day order is a little too strict.
Solano County is already preparing to reopen restaurants next week, though they are the “deadliest” of the wine country counties with 14 fatalities overall, and 2 this week. Yet that count is perhaps artificially inflated by the nursing home outbreak in Vallejo. Meanwhile in Mendocino, which has a mere 13 cases and no deaths yet at all, a county supervisors meeting today discussed reopening, though no vote has taken place yet.
It may be risky as heck to reopen, but these counties do have credible cases for exemption, and they are pretty much playing by the rules to request variances rather than just pulling shit without permission. But at least they are having civil and intelligent conversations debating the merits of the topic, rather than waving guns and nooses as the “reopen” crowd is doing elsewhere in America.
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