Tri-Cities, Yakima wineries, breweries and bars can only reopen if they serve ‘full meals’

Beer

Health officials say wineries, breweries and bars in Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties are allowed to open under Phase 1.5 of the state’s reopening plan — but only if they have serve full meals prepared on-site.

The Benton-Franklin Health District previously announced Thursday that these types of businesses were allowed to reopen under the same restrictions as restaurants, but did not mention food as a requirement.

Hours later, the Benton-Franklin and Yakima Health District sent out a joint statement saying they’d received a letter from the state’s Secretary of Health John Weisman clarifying the definition of “restaurant” for purposes of modified Phase 1.

In the letter, Weisman stated that winery, brewery and bar operations were not intended to be included in modified Phase 1 for the following reasons:

  • First, such operations promote the bringing in of others from outside the county, which threatens the containment strategy for COVID-19.
  • Second, similar to bars, tasting/sampling at wineries and breweries creates a social setting (individuals/groups outside one’s household interacting for an extended period of time without the use of face coverings) that can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission.”

However, wineries and breweries that “serve full meals prepared on-site, in building kitchen facilities under the ownership of the winery and brewery and are substantially equivalent to a restaurant,” Weisman wrote.

He added that wineries and breweries that “do not serve full meals prepared on-site in building kitchen facilities under the ownership of the winery and brewery are not allowed to operate.”

A spokesperson for the Benton-Franklin Health District told KAPP-KVEW that bars may also reopen if they serve full meals prepared on-site.

These establishments must follow the same restrictions as restaurants, which means outdoor seating only, with seating at no more than 5% capacity. Bar-style seating is not allowed under Phase 1.5.

Live music will not be allowed at these facilities until Phase 4, the final phase of the state’s reopening plan.