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North Bay restaurants, wineries drop lawsuit after return of outdoor dining

More than 50 restaurants, wineries and hotels in Sonoma and Napa counties that banded together to sue Gov. Gavin Newsom have dropped their lawsuit after outdoor dining was allowed to go forward under reshuffled pandemic rules.

The Wine Country Coalition for Safe Reopening announced Thursday it has dismissed its suit filed early last week in Napa County Superior Court against Newsom and Dr. Tomás Aragón, the state’s public health officer.

But the group said it was ready to refile if an outdoor dining ban is reimposed. Newsom lifted regional stay-home orders on Monday, permitting counties to allow outdoor dining — the group’s foremost goal, the coalition said in a press release.

“We are just gratified that we can return to our work and to serving our communities,” Cynthia Ariosta, managing partner of Pizzeria Tra Vigne in St. Helena, and spokesperson for the group, said in the written statement. “All of us are dedicated to protecting our employees’ and customers’ health and welfare, and the investments we had already made to our outdoor dining areas fortunately allowed us to reopen quickly and safely.”

Members of the coalition argued they’d already lost millions of dollars due to the outdoor dining ban, which also restricted wineries from offering limited tastings. The group counts more than two dozen Sonoma County businesses, including Healdsburg-based Costeaux French Bakery, the Farmhouse Inn in Forestville, Jackson’s Bar and Oven in Santa Rosa and Guiso Latin Fusion in Healdsburg.

Sonoma County joined the state-mandated Bay Area stay-home order on Dec. 12, and it was extended indefinitely on Jan. 8. Newsom lifted the order and similar measures for Central and Southern California on Monday. Most counties, including Sonoma and Napa, returned to the most restrictive of a four-colored tier system, which nevertheless permits outdoor dining and drink service, as well as limited operations inside nail and hair salons and other personal care businesses.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin Fixler at 707-521-5336 or kevin.fixler@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @kfixler.

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