More businesses close as employees test positive for COVID-19

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Wilson Creek Winery posts signs about COVID-19 safety measures, as well as hand sanitizing stations and signs on the tables reminding guests of social distancing at the winery, Friday, June 26. Valley News/Lexington Howe photo

Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula Wine Country announced the temporary closure of their tasting room and the Creekside Grille Restaurant as of Wednesday, June 24, after two employees tested positive for COVID-19, although the winery will still be open for curbside wine club and bottle pickups, according to a recent statement. The Courtyard Bar and Grill will also remain open for to-go orders for a select few items.

“We have been closely monitoring COVID-19 updates, and unfortunately, we have recently learned that two of our own have tested positive for the virus. We are saddened by this, as we have gone above and beyond the recommended protocols to protect the safety of all,” according to Wilson Creek Winery’s recent statement. “While we cannot divulge the identity, department or hours of the infected individuals, we can tell you, there is no proof that the virus was contracted on property.”

Along with social distancing signs and hand sanitizing stations, Wilson Creek Winery also has signs reminding guests to stay 6 feet apart while on the grounds. Valley News/Lexington Howe photo
Wilson Creek Winery temporarily closes, except for wine club and bottle pickups only, and leaves The Courtyard Bar and Grill open for to-go orders and a limited menu after two employees test positive for COVID-19, Wednesday, June 24. Valley News/Lexington Howe photo

Wilson Creek Winery is implementing safety protocols and a professional sanitation crew to disinfect the property, according to the statement.

An update related that Wilson Creek Winery will reopen in phases.

Doffo Wineries also announced they would temporarily close their doors Wednesday, June 24, after one of their team members tested positive as well.

The winery said it is in communication with the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association of which it is a board member “to help develop an action plan template for other wineries in the valley that may be experiencing this.”

Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association released a statement the same day in response to the closures.

“We want to assure locals and visitors to our wineries that we are in close communication with the Riverside County Health Department, and they are providing guidance on additional protocols and procedures to ensure the health and safety of all guests, vendors and employees,” according to TVWA’s statement.

Wilson Creek Winery is currently allowing a limited number of guests to sit at the socially distanced tables. Valley News/Lexington Howe photo
Wilson Creek Winery is currently allowing a limited number of guests to sit at the socially distanced tables. Valley News/Lexington Howe photo
Doffo Wineries closes its doors Wednesday, June 24, after one of their staff members tests positive for COVID-19. Valley News/Lexington Howe photo

Krista Chaich, executive director of Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association, also said they are working to support the wineries, whatever the need may be.

They also encouraged all wineries to revisit Centers of Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to be certain that everyone is doing the best they can per situation.

They have also provided a list of wineries currently open with additional information in a detailed list at https://www.temeculawines.org/files/TVWA%20Winery%20Re-opening%20Information%20June%2024%202020b.pdf.

“We are a small, closely-knit region made up of mostly family-owned and -operated wineries,” according to TVWA’s statement. “We care deeply about our guests as well as one another. We will continue to do our best to manage this situation with urgency and transparency. There is nothing more important to us than the health and well-being of our visitors, our employees and our community.”

The statement came after a string of other community businesses closed their doors as well.

Nothing Bundt Cakes in Temecula closed its doors Monday, June 22, due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19.

“All our bakeries have been following strict health and safety protocols and CDC guidelines including constant cleaning and sanitizing, team members wearing masks and gloves, installing sneeze guards, providing social distancing signage and offering curbside pickup and delivery,” Tate Parker-Donner, owner of the Temecula location, said in an email statement. “We are currently conducting an additional deep clean and are waiting for the results of all employee tests before planning the reopening.”

The restaurant 1909 Temecula in Old Town Temecula closed as well due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19.

1909 Temecula released a statement regarding their temporary closure Friday, June 19.

“Please know that we are a family owned business. The last thing we want is to hide anything, that is not like us,” according to the restaurant’s statement. “We know of many businesses that have had employees test positive, but have not closed. Legally, we are not obligated to close. According to the health department, as long as the employees or guests that have been in direct contact with our staff member have been notified to quarantine for 14 days, which they have, we could technically resume business.”

1909 Temecula said it wasn’t comfortable resuming business until all employees had been tested, and that it would be paying all employees during that time.

“We will not reopen unless all staff working have returned with negative results,” according to the restaurant.

An update Saturday, June 20, shared that the restaurant was in communication with the Riverside County Health Department, they had not confirmed if COVID-19 was contracted from 1909 and that they believe guests are at low risk of exposure.

The latest statement, Saturday, June 27, shared that 1909 was currently open to the public. All employees who returned to work have been tested with negative results; the building was completely disinfected. Employees will continue to wear masks and gloves; all tables are socially distanced, and more information can be found at https://www.facebook.com/1909temecula.

The Shamrock Irish Pub and Eatery in Murrieta released a statement Saturday, June 20, also announcing its temporary closure due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19.

An update Monday, June 22, shared that another employee had tested positive for the virus and that they were informed Sunday, June 21. The pub reiterated to the public that it would not reopen until all employees have been tested and received negative results; however, it set a provisional reopening date for Sunday, July 5.

As of June 26, that date is unchanged, although it could change, dependent on the staff’s health. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/TheShamrockIrishPubandEatery.

Several other shops announced temporary closures as well.

As of Thursday, June 18, Truly Madly Sweetly Bake Shop on Winchester Road in Temecula temporarily closed its doors, as they also had an employee test positive for COVID-19.

A statement assured guests that the bakery would be testing all staff and deep cleaning.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s frequently asked questions about the coronavirus and businesses, if a business believes an employee has COVID-19, it doesn’t mean the business has to close down.

While the CDC said that in most cases businesses shouldn’t have to, it did state that businesses should close off any areas where the person who tested positive came in contact in the case of prolonged exposure.

The California Department for Public Health released a document online, June 16, to employers regarding responding to COVID-19 in the workplace.

In the guidance statement, CDPH said that employers may need to contact their local health department on how to respond or manage an outbreak happening in the business, and that these needs vary.

The CDC also offered guidance for small businesses and businesses, California Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides guidance on following legal requirements for protecting workers, and the California statewide industry-specific guidelines give more information to businesses on reopening and keeping risk low.

For more information on the CDPH’s guidance for responding to COVID-19 in the workplace, visit https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Workplace-Outbreak-Employer-Guidance.aspx.

Visit the CDPH for COVID-19 county updates at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/, or https://www.rivcoph.org for information on coronavirus statistics in Riverside County.

For general information on the coronavirus – not medical advice, contact the Riverside County information line by dialing 211.

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at lhowe@reedermedia.com.