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Breweries fear unfair treatment by COVID-19 restrictions

Posted at 7:20 PM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-18 22:21:01-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — After 35 local restaurants came together to sue the state over its COVID restrictions, other businesses are also following suit, including some breweries throughout the state, saying they are being treated unfairly.

Although no local breweries are involved in the lawsuit, the suit has to do with breweries that do not sell food. The complaint says these types of businesses are facing more stringent rules, but that's not the only problem, the reason for the rules is unknown.

"It's just a completely arbitrary regulation on brewery tasting rooms that just simply does not make sense," said Tom McCormick, executive director, California Craft Brewers Association.

Tom McCormick is the Executive Director of the California Craft Brewers Association, an organization that filed a lawsuit Thursday along with five breweries located in southern and northern California, alleging constitutional violations because, in current reopening guidelines, craft breweries are required to provide a sit-down meal in order to reopen their outdoor tasting areas.

"While at the same time, winery tasting rooms do not have that meal requirement. So we're simply asking the state to treat brewers on the same equal footing as like-businesses," added McCormick.

A state spokesperson could not immediately be reached to respond to the suit. The craft brewers association says when it is time to begin the reopening of businesses in 2021, they want to ensure that their industry is not divided unnecessarily. They say the only differences between how a brewery and a wine tasting room operate, are the products they produce, so guidelines for reopening should be the same.

"We're just hoping that our members can get back open, at least for outdoor service, it'll be a lifeline, it'll save a lot of businesses," said McCormick.

Now that it's been filed, McCormick says they'll be waiting to see how the state responds to the suit. He doesn't know when that could happen.

So how could this impact Kern County? If the judge were to rule in the favor of this lawsuit, it would apply to all counties in the state and those reopening guidelines.

Today a group of 16 state lawmakers wrote a letter asking California Alcoholic Beverage Control to ease up on enforcing restaurant restrictions. That comes after a judge overturned the restrictions in San Diego County earlier this week.