This partner communication exists to provide timely information on Sonoma County’s tourism and hospitality industry, along with resources to help partners navigate through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
July 8, 2020
Today, I just want to give a great round of applause and thanks to our industry for continuing to navigate through the COVID-19 quicksand. Just when it looks like we’re opening, staffs can be rehired and inventories can be restocked, we’re hearing of the potential for closure within several industry sectors. As business owners and employees, it’s an almost impossible scenario to manage. We’re also seeing the impact of declining visitor sentiment numbers due to the spike in cases, with a spotlight shining on California, making forecasting and marketing planning an ongoing challenge. 

The tourism industry has always valiantly managed through crisis situations and is, with few exceptions, the reason economies recover. To shoulder this along with the pending wildfire season is exhausting and troubling. Please let us know how SCT can help you. Thank you, thank you for all you’re doing to keep the industry and Sonoma County’s economy moving in the right direction.   
Claudia Vecchio
President and CEO
Sonoma County Tourism
Rollback of reopenings expected Friday

Unfortunately, high transmission rates and increased hospitalizations resulted in Sonoma County’s addition to the state’s watch list yesterday .

Counties that have remained on the monitoring list for three consecutive days will be required to shut down some industries (listed below) unless they can be modified to operate outside or by pick-up. Bars must close all operations even if they are operating outdoors. The closures will apply for a minimum of three weeks and are subject to an extension based on epidemiologic indicators.

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Wineries and tasting rooms
  • Movie theaters
  • Family entertainment centers (for example: bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages, and arcades)
  • Zoos and museums
  • Cardrooms

You can learn more on the State of California Industry guidance to reduce risk page under the “Guidance for counties with attestations” section. 

Breweries/brew pubs can operate outdoors if they operate a restaurant (either by way of a bona fide eating place on the premises or through the use of a bona fide meal provider).

The ABC guidance also states:

Licensees that are required to close only indoor operations as specified above may operate in outdoor areas as long as there is appropriate physical distancing, face coverings are worn, and the licensee complies with the other requirements in the relevant sector guidance for Dine-In Restaurants.

If a licensee operates outdoors pursuant to this directive, the area in which alcoholic beverages are served or consumed must be licensed under either the permanent license issued for the premises or under a COVID-19 Temporary Catering Authorization.

Consistent with the directives issued, alcoholic beverages may only be served in conjunction with meals, except for winery tasting rooms.

Travel Confidently toolkit

The U.S. Travel Association has released a toolkit in support of its new “Travel Confidently” campaign. The core message is that a healthy and safe travel experience is a shared responsibility. When travel businesses, residents and travelers all do their part, Americans can Travel Confidently.

The toolkit contains social media graphics, a social media guide, industry guidance posters, and sample digital ads. You can learn more about this effort, and access the toolkit, here .

Additional toolkits from Visit California and Sonoma County Tourism are available here and here , respectively.

Sonoma County Tourism’s toolkit was recently updated with new print-and-post Mask Required and Please Practice Physical Distancing signs. 
Wine Business Institute Research Summit

The Wine Business Institute will be holding their second annual Research Summit on July 15 from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

The live virtual event is a gathering of academics, scholars, and wine industry professionals devoted to the sharing of research on the economic, social, and management issues affecting the wine sector. This year’s theme is “navigating uncertainty” and will include a panel moderated by Dr. Damien Wilson, Hamel Family Chair of Wine Business at Sonoma State University.

General admission is $45. Learn more and register here
Federal legislative updates

Congress is expected to spend the month of July   finalizing the phase 4 coronavirus relief bill , with the goal of passing legislation ahead of the August congressional recess, which is scheduled to begin August 7. While the U.S. House of Representatives has passed their version of relief legislation—the  HEROES Act —the U.S. Senate is expected to unveil their own version in the coming weeks, which is likely to be the key starting point for the next phase of legislation.
Both parties have   their own lists of must-haves   for the next bill. Renewing the unemployment fund created by the CARES Act, which is set to end on July 31, will be a priority of Democrats, while Republicans have listed liability protections, as well as “jobs and kids," among their top areas of focus. The bill is also likely to address funding and flexibility for state and local governments and whether schools can open safely in the fall.
U.S. Travel is continuing to focus on adding travel-related provisions, including expanding eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and others, among further modifications and enhancements to the program; acquiring additional funds for Economic Development Administration Grants for DMOs; a temporary travel tax credit and more. U.S. Travel’s full list of legislative priorities can be found   here .
ADARA restaurant industry webinar

ADARA is hosting a webinar tomorrow on “Expert Perspectives on Dining Out and the Restaurant Industry” with Chef Ming Tsai and Sooho Choi, EVP and Global Head of Travel and Hospitality at Sapient.

The 45-minute webinar, starting at 8 a.m., will cover:

  • Restaurant booking trends with a focus on recent consumer activity
  • Adapting business models for the new normal
  • Engaging customers in the contactless world
  • Managing the crisis - Independent restaurants vs Enterprise brands

Register here for an engaging discussion on what lies ahead.
Safe Travels Promise Video – B-roll needed

We are concluding production of the Safe Travels Promise video. In the video we discuss the various components of the promise, but it would be great to see it in action. We would welcome the chance to use b-roll from properties at which the patrons are wearing masks and exercising physical distancing protocols. If you have b-roll you’d be willing to share, please let Claudia know by emailing .

Sonoma County Tourism  has a Coronavirus Partner Toolkit regularly updated  here.

The Sonoma County Economic Development Board has compiled a comprehensive list of local, state, and government resources (including financing options) for businesses at their SoCo Launch website here .

Get tested  and help Sonoma County eliminate the coronavirus. Broad COVID-19 viral testing is now available. Learn more  here.

The  County of Sonoma’s  SoCo Emergency webpage  offers COVID-19 resources, support, and information.