This was part of the letter of clarification sent out by the Benton Franklin Health Department, in an attempt to clear up confusion with bars, wineries and restaurants in the Tri-Cities and Yakima areas (Benton-Franklin-Yakima counties) after Gov. Inslee's new wave of restrictions announced Thursday. It referred to the difference between a winery-bar, and a restaurant: (from Health Secretary John Wiesman)

  • "such operations promote the bringing in of others from outside the county, which threatens the containment strategy for COVID-19.
  •  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.”

Wiesman said that such establishments that do serve full meals are basically a restaurant. According to their logic, a restaurant will not generate the same kind of traveling or vacationing interest that would spread COVID; supposedly more people would travel to visit a winery or bar.

Wiesman said  “(bars-wineries 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.”

So if a bar or winery cannot do so, they cannot open under the modified Phase 1.5 that we are in.  Thursday, Inslee announced new limits on outdoor gatherings to 5 persons or less in Phase 1 and 2 counties, and 10 in Phase 3.

Under Phase 1.5, such establishments can only have outdoor seating at 5% of capacity. This applies to restaurants, bars and wineries--if they're serving full meals.