Santa Barbara County moves to reopen wineries and food service in tasting rooms

Santa Barbara County is clearing the way for wineries to reopen and for tasting rooms to resume serving food.
(Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

Santa Barbara County has temporarily suspended regulations that prohibit or limit wineries and tasting rooms from serving food, clearing the way for such businesses to begin serving meals as soon as they are able as part of the second stage of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-phase reopening plan.

The move was part of Emergency Rule No. 2 that was declared Monday by Mona Miyasato, Santa Barbara County’s executive officer and director of emergency services. It authorizes wineries and wine tasting rooms to serve food during the COVID-19 pandemic, as long as the businesses are compliant with state laws regulating retail food, alcohol, alcohol licensing and all local directives regarding reopening during the pandemic, including certification or attestation of a COVID-19 protection plan.

The emergency rule went into effect immediately. It is set to remain in place until whichever of the following occurs first: Dec. 16; the county’s COVID-19 emergency proclamation is terminated; or the rule is superseded by the adoption of amendments to the county zoning ordinances by the Board of Supervisors.

A key architect of the nation’s first coronavirus stay-at-home order says California’s fast pace of lifting restrictions “poses a very serious risk.”


The rule will be recommended to the Board of Supervisors for confirmation on June 2, according to county officials. Additionally, the county’s Planning and Development Department is slated to present recommended zoning code amendments to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors in June.