Climbing coronavirus cases force Napa County to curb restaurant, bar, tasting room reopenings

Napa County’s coronavirus cases

Since early June, coronavirus cases doubled within 21 days, from 141 cases on June 4 to 282 cases on June 25. Since June 26, the number of cases in Napa County jumped by 118 (from 258 to 376), a 45% increase.

Starting Thursday, Napa restaurants go back to “al fresco” dining, forcing those wanting to remain open to rely heavily on patio space, repurposed parking lot dining areas as well as takeout and delivery options to continue making money and stay in business.

Triggered by increasing cases of the coronavirus, the latest rollback order by Napa County public health is occurring just a few days after the June 30 announcement that closures were being relaxed.

Officials say the new shutdown could last three weeks or longer, at least through July 30, depending on data showing either uptick or declining trend in COVID-19 cases.

In addition to dine-in restaurants, the rule also applies to bars, brewpubs, pubs, breweries, and tasting rooms for indoor and outdoor service, along with movie theaters and indoor entertainment venues, museums and card rooms and other businesses that will also have to close until further notice. However, restaurants and other businesses are being allowed to maintain outdoor operations.


“We’re an outdoor destination restaurant with a good following among a growing list of customers,” said Michael Dunsford, owner of the Calistoga Inn. “We have 150 seats on our patio and in the adjacent beer garden area with social distancing and tables placed at least six feet apart. Our brewery will still be the source of beer and wine for patrons. No one can sit at a bar. The brewery functions as a service bar complement to restaurant customers. We plan to continue offering lunch and dinner service on our patio seven days a week with brunch on the weekends.”

Dunsford said he understands the logic behind preventing large social gatherings including bars where people are close to each other or walking around with a beer in hand in close proximity.

“Our situation is different. We are fortunate to have two large outdoor eating facilities where everyone is seated,” Dunsford said. “We’ve been operating this way all along. We also ramped up our takeout business over the last few months in response to demand. However, if this closure lasts too long, it will be a punch in the gut. People in our industry are hurting already.”

He said the economic cost of shutting down affects businesses and workers.

“People are hoping to see another federal assistance program, but after the first round of checks were issued, these funds are drying up,” Dunsford said. “Businesses are now struggling to stay open or perhaps planning to close. Many want to know where the next financial lifeline is coming from?”

Expanding outdoor seating also includes using parking areas, as seen at the French inspired farm to table Veraison Restaurant at the Mountain View Hotel, and also at the Lovia Restaurant in Calistoga with its historic craftsman house.

At Busters Original Southern Barbecue, located at the four-way stop in Calistoga on Route 29, manager Barbara Jolly said they have several places outside for guests including seating in gazebos.

“We never had to close,” Jolly said. “After over 20 years in business, 60% of our business today is carryout — and growing. We are set up to handle growth in takeout orders. We are also seeing a rise in the number of truckers stopping by for lunch. It looks like a white vehicle fleet filling our parking lot telling people our food must be great — and it is.”

St. Helena

The transition to all-outdoor dining means that some restaurants have to relocate tables and chairs brought from inside.

A spokesperson for the Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena said, “We will be switching everything over to the great outdoors on Wednesday and still have ample parking for guests. Most people making reservations are requesting to be outside.”


Within the city, restaurants are taking steps to adapt to another new reality starting Thursday. Ristorante Allegria plans to expand patio seating capacity from 14 to 29 tables by July 9 making room for 60 patrons.

“We are also increasing the number of large umbrellas to provide shade during hot days and bringing in more heaters for chilly evenings both now and in anticipation of cooler fall temperatures,” said manager Jake Brownlee. “We ask everyone to please make a reservation and offer a special discount on wine with takeout orders as an incentive.”

At the Tarla Mediterranean Bar & Grill, manager Baoud Dalia said, “We are very busy and also serve discounted wine with meals. Turnout has been good for two weeks as locals started to rise to the challenge of going out for dinner again. We’ve seen widespread community support, but I don’t think this pace can be sustained long term without an influx of tourists.”

Holly Morris, reservationist at Coles Chop House, said indoor seating had decreased by 50 with social spacing, including the elimination of bar seating, and they are already contacting those who recently made reservations to shift them to the patio.

“We have 21 tables on our patio with a combined total of 48 seats — 15 tables for four and four tables for two,” she said.

The Chop House seized the opportunity to be creative by finding additional outside seating areas to supplement its patio. Their parking lot was initially seen as outdoor seating venue, but unused space around two sides of the building and along a path with a gate leading to a garden overlooking the creek, were also determined to be desirable table sites.

“We’re having a meeting on Wednesday to work out details on how to operate later this week,” Morris said. “There are always adjustments to make. The county of Napa approached us asking for input on how to accommodate guests outdoors, given the new order, and we were happy to provide recommendations based on our experience.”

Behind Napa’s new order

Monday’s new Napa County public health order, with its return to several categories of business restrictions, comes at a time when 31 states are seeing increases in coronavirus cases, putting Napa on the state’s watch list to see if cases continue to climb at the current rate.

The latest number of all COVID-19 cases in Napa County stands at 436 as of July 6 (including 60 new cases reported that day), with some 291 active and 141 recovered cases. This was the largest number of cases since Napa County began releasing daily updates and was higher than the 40 new cases reported on June 29.

The death toll within Napa remains at four. A total of 22,287 tests have been conducted to date and 21,798 of these were negative.

Since early June, coronavirus cases doubled within 21 days, from 141 cases on June 4 to 282 cases on June 25. Since June 26, the number of cases in Napa County jumped by 118 (from 258 to 376), a 45% increase.

According to Napa’s website, this spike is the result of an outbreak at a “congregate living site” (a farm worker center) not at a long-term care community. It was also attributed in part to household spread as well as spread in other nonhousehold settings, including workplaces.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been four COVID-19 outbreaks in the county. The presence of one or more confirmed cases of this virus in institutional or congregate settings, such as at a skilled nursing and long-term care facilities, is treated as a COVID-19 outbreak.

A chart at this website shows that the typical case within this county was a Hispanic/Latino male, average age 42, but the age range varied considerably. A higher percentage of men (55.3%) have contracted COVID-19 compared to 44.7% of women. Within California, 50.1% of males and 49.4% of females have contracted the virus. Since March 22, there have been 977 cumulative case contacts in Napa County.

A majority of these cases are among those ages 18 to 49 (51.8% or 226 people), while those ages 0 to 17 represent l7% or 74 people, those ages 50 to 64 comprise 22.5% or 98 people, and those over age 64 with 8.7%, or 38 individuals

The distribution of cases in Napa County includes 142 in Napa, 73 in American Canyon, 39 in St. Helena to Calistoga, 36 in Calistoga and 14 in St. Helena, according to the county.

Overall in California as of July 7, there were 277,774 confirmed cases and 6,448 deaths. Nationwide, there have gone over 3 million cases, with 130,430 deaths. Global COVID-19 cases now total 11.7 million with 539,058 deaths, as reported by Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, coronavirus cases are rising at a rate of 200,000 cases per day.

Napa County’s coronavirus cases

Since early June, coronavirus cases doubled within 21 days, from 141 cases on June 4 to 282 cases on June 25. Since June 26, the number of cases in Napa County jumped by 118 (from 258 to 376), a 45% increase.

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