The outbreak of a new coronavirus in California and worldwide has triggered the cancellation of Taste of Yountville, the annual showcase of fine food and wines.
In a statement released just before noon Monday, producers of Taste of Yountville, along with the town and the Yountville Chamber of Commerce, announced the shelving of the event, which was to have taken place March 21 at The Shops at the Marketplace (formerly V Marketplace). It will not be rescheduled.
A four-day companion event, Yountville Live, will go on as scheduled March 19-22 at various venues in downtown Yountville.
The scrapping of a festival that has highlighted the Napa Valley’s event calendar for more than a quarter century was the latest in a growing number of disruptions the coronavirus’ spread has caused in the Bay Area and elsewhere.
An electric-vehicle ride-and-drive organized by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will not take place Thursday at Napa’s Westin Verasa hotel as scheduled, according to Deanna Contreras, spokesperson for the utility. Instead, the open house will be turned into a virtual event, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at https://zoom.us/j/3105738552
The Napa County Foster Parents Association also announced it would postpone its annual Chocolate & Wine tasting event, scheduled for March 29, to 3 p.m. on Aug. 23 at the Meritage Resort and Spa.
Also on Monday, the East Bay city of Dublin shelved a two-day St. Patrick’s Day celebration planned for this weekend, and the University of California in Berkeley suspended most in-person classes through spring break, in attempts to prevent the large face-to-face gatherings thought to heighten the risk of spreading the coronavirus also known as COVID-19.
“With the recent documents provided by the California Department of Public Health suggesting the limit of large group events for potential exposure to COVID-19, we are confident that this is the best course of action as we move through this unprecedented situation with public health and safety as our top priority,” Taste of Yountville producers said in the news release.
Attendance totaled about 1,400 in 2019 for Taste of Yountville, which features a large pavilion on a Marketplace lawn west of Washington Street for food and beverage providers as well as a stage for musicians, according to Whitney Diver McEvoy, president and chief executive of the Yountville Chamber of Commerce.
Organizers began discussing the event’s status on Friday and consulted staff with the town, Visit Napa Valley and the county Health and Human Services agency before deciding to cancel it, according to McEvoy. However, preparations are continuing for Yountville Live, which takes place at about a dozen restaurants and other locations and produces smaller concentrations of guests than Taste of Yountville, she said.
Hand-washing and sanitizer stations will be installed at various downtown sites, and some of the festival’s programming may be changed in response to the viral outbreak, according to McEvoy.
At least two student theatrical productions in the Napa Valley will continue to run through their full schedules. St. Helena High School’s production of “Newsies” that premiered Friday will be shown through its final performance Sunday, March 15, and Justin-Siena High School will stage “High School Musical” at Yountville’s Lincoln Theater on March 20 and 21.
Elsewhere in the Bay Area, government and health officials have begun advising residents to avoid gathering in large groups to slow the virus’ spread. On Friday, San Francisco issued a recommendation for social distancing, calling on city residents to stay home as much as possible. Santa Clara County, which has confirmed 20 coronavirus cases, issued similar guidelines.
At UC Berkeley, Chancellor Carol Christ, in a message to students and staff, said the school will pause most in-person lectures from Tuesday through the end of spring break on March 29. Plans after that will be dependent on the latest coronavirus information at that time, Christ wrote. Along with suspending most in-person classes, the school is offering all lecture courses through remote programs like Zoom or Course Capture.
Dublin made the decision to cancel the annual two-day St. Patrick’s festival, 5K Shamrock Fun Run and Walk, parade and pancake breakfast after consulting with Alameda County public health and emergency services officials. The festivities were originally scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday. The two-day event draws roughly 80,000 people each year, according to city officials.
Two Alameda County residents have tested positive for coronavirus in the last 10 days, according to county health officials.
Karen Smith, a former director of the state health department, says public health officials are now in serious conversations statewide now about when communities should transition from the task of locating potential contacts of a confirmed patient to broadly asking people to stay home and not congregate in groups — a sobering acknowledgment that the virus cannot be stopped.
“When do we get to the point where we don’t have the capacity to keep doing it how we’re doing it?” said Smith, who is working as a consultant in Santa Clara and Mendocino counties. “At that time, we want to slow the virus — it’s unlikely that we’re going to stop the virus — so we can provide adequate health care.”
No person-to-person spread cases of coronavirus infection have been reported in Napa County thus far.
With reports from Bay City News Service and the Los Angeles Times.
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