Drinks at Venus Spirits & Distillery on the Westside.
(Crystal Birns)
COVID Economy

Food restrictions will be lifted for breweries, wineries and distilleries starting Saturday

Breweries, wineries and distilleries can again operate outdoors statewide under new health guidance released Thursday.

Breweries, wineries and distilleries will soon be allowed to operate outdoors statewide — even if they don’t serve food — in the latest loosening of California’s coronavirus business restrictions.

Business as usual, however, will remain a distant concept, even in the most lenient category of the state’s four-category reopening plan.

At establishments located in counties that are in either the purple or red tier, the two strictest, patrons will be required to make reservations and be subject to a 90-minute time limit, and on-site consumption must stop by 8 p.m., according to new state health guidance that is effective Saturday.

Those businesses can begin to open indoors as their home counties progress further, though capacity will be limited to 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer, in the more lenient orange tier; and 50% or 200 people, whichever is fewer, in the least-strict yellow tier.

Breweries, wineries and distilleries that do serve food will continue to be governed by the same rules applied to restaurants.

Despite the relaxation of restrictions for some alcohol-serving establishments, bars that don’t serve food will remain completely closed in the purple and red tiers.

However, those can reopen outdoors with modifications in the orange tier. Effective Saturday, bars will be able to open indoors in yellow-tier counties, with capacity limited to 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

While the new guidance clears the way for counties to toast the additional reopenings, it remains to be seen whether local health officers will go as far as the state allows.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has not yet announced whether it will align its guidance with the state.

Restaurants, gyms, museums and movie theaters in Los Angeles County will be allowed to reopen for indoor activity, according to a public health announcement made Thursday.

The reopenings will be triggered as soon as California reaches its goal of administering 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to residents in its most disadvantaged areas — which appears likely to happen Friday.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.