Indoor Wine Tastings Still Permitted Despite BC’s New COVID-19 Restrictions

Indoor Wine Tastings Still Permitted Despite BC's New COVID-19 Restrictions

Kelowna’s Summerhill Pyramid Winery has taken action, setting up outdoor tasting stations, after new COVID-19 rules were announced to ban indoor dining for three weeks on Monday as a so-called Circuit breaker to prevent increased transmission and control circulating variants.
“As soon as we received the order to shut down the indoor restaurants, we assumed the indoor tasting was as well, because so far they have been logged into all policy deployments,” Ezra said. Cipes, second generation owner of Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna, BC

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Other wineries closed their tasting rooms on Tuesday, awaiting more clarity on what the restrictions meant to them.

“We are now convinced that the vineyards can continue to offer tastings. Those offering wine by the glass and food must adhere to outside travel restrictions, ”said Miles Prodan, President and CEO of Wine Growers BC (formerly known as BC Wine Institute) .

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Prodan said he was relieved that a crucial part of the winery’s operations survived the chopping block.

“In the past, when this happened, we had the opportunity to explain to the provincial health office that this is a critical part of the way we do business,” he said. .

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But wine-growing restaurants must comply with new health ordinances, which only allow terrace service, take-out and delivery until April 19.

“Breweries, wineries and other tasting rooms that have licenses to serve alcohol and certain small food items that have a patio can continue to operate the patio. Indoor seats are not allowed, ”said a statement released Tuesday by the Ministry of Health.

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“No changes have been made to wineries or breweries that operate like a retailer with no tables or seats for food and beverage service. BC wineries in this type of setting can continue to offer samples indoors as long as they follow existing COVID-19 protocols, ”the ministry wrote.

“We felt shaken right away. We’re planning our Easter brunch and afternoon tea, but we’re very lucky to have a big patio so we’re all good, ”Cipes said of the indoor restaurants closing.

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The hospitality industry is hoping the latest round of restrictions will be temporary. Businesses are still recovering from losses incurred in 2020.

A recent survey commissioned by Wine Growers BC found that 83% of wineries and winegrowers have been negatively affected by COVID-19 and 1 in 10 are at risk of shutting down.

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“The wine industry is by no means a get-rich-quick scheme. Selling your wine at the winery is the most profitable place you can do it. Tourism is the key to a vineyard’s success and its ability to thrive, ”Prodan said.

But with international tourism virtually nonexistent, the vineyards are gearing up for a second summer for the locals.

“It’s going to be like a local place and a regional tourist destination this year and again,” Cipes joked.

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