By Raiza Giorgi
Even though there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Santa Barbara County as of Friday afternoon, several upcoming events in the Santa Ynez Valley have been postponed as a precaution. The NatureTrack Film Festival was supposed to be held from March 20 – 22 in Los Olivos, and organizers decided to postpone to October.
“Our primary concern is the health, safety and welfare of our guests, filmmakers and volunteers. Recent federal, state and county public health advisories have stressed the critical importance of avoiding crowd contact (“social distancing”) during the global Covid-19 crisis. We take these advisories very seriously and want to do our part to reduce risk for all parties connected with the NatureTrack Film Festival. We greatly regret any inconvenience and disappointment this causes for everyone … This was a very hard call and we did not make it lightly,” NatureTrack officials said.
Also postponed is the Buellton Wine and Chili Festival that would have taken place Sunday, March 15 is now rescheduled for Sunday, August 30.
“We had an emergency meeting how to handle this and postponed to Sunday, August 30. For the safety of the community and visitors it was the right thing to do,” said Kathy Vreeland, executive director of the Buellton Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau.
Tickets purchased for the festival will be valid for the new dates, and those not available on the rescheduled dates can request a refund or a voucher that will entitle them to attend a future Wine & Chili festival over the next three years. In order to request the voucher guests should email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like a refund contact NightOut at email@example.com.
The Chumash Casino Resort said they are postponing live entertainment and adhering to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control.
“After careful consideration, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has elected to cancel tonight’s John Fogerty concert and tomorrow night’s Prince Royce show, and postpone all future concerts at the Chumash Casino Resort until further notice. Guests who purchased tickets via credit card will be automatically refunded within seven to 10 business days, and those who made cash purchase can get refunds at the CLUB at Chumash inside the casino. We will provide further updates regarding the status of future concert dates in the weeks to come,” Chumash Casino officials said.
The Buellton Senior Center also sent out a message they are suspending their lunch buddies, senior dinners and bingo games until April 1 out of precaution. They will offer lunch ‘to go’ instead of in their dining room, and still be delivering the meals on wheels. Fresh vegetables and bread will be available on their tables for pick up as well, according to Pam Gnekow, executive director.
The Solvang Senior Center has postponed their programs and activities.
Atterdag Village of Solvang said they are implementing screenings for all visitors as they are erring on the side of caution for their fragile senior population.
The Visitor’s Check-in Office is open from 1 – 6 p.m. for screenings 7 days a week. Visitors will have their temperature checked and witnessed hand washing before issuing a badge. Visitors will not be allowed in the dining rooms during meal hours.
The Boy Scouts of America also decided to postpone their annual pancake breakfast that was to take place Sunday, March 15, along with the Career Fair at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School that was supposed to take place March 20.
Organizers for the Solvang Century bike ride could not be reached, however a post on their Facebook page said their permit was revoked by County Public Health. If people had purchased merchandise it will be mailed, and they will update on their next steps.
Officials from the City of Solvang said they are working on a response and will put out information shortly.
“I expect to be reaching out to media later today (most likely) or tomorrow morning at latest with City direction to address Coronavirus,” said Xenia Bradford, City Manager.
“As we feel the affects of tourism being down we are pushing for people to shop local. The people who need support the most is our local businesses,” said Tracy Beard, executive director of the Solvang Chamber of Commerce.
Beard, along with several Santa Barbara County chambers of commerce gathered Wednesday to discuss issues affecting local business communities including how this virus will affect business. The event aimed to encourage fellow board members to think more regionally, and focus on common goals and strengths. Assessing the coronavirus’ business impacts and implications were the most pressing topics discussed, and how it’s rapidly changing day-to-day life as COVID-19 cases grow.
Schools in the Santa Ynez Valley are still in session until Wednesday, March 18 – and will reopen Tuesday, April 14. Solvang Elementary School Superintendent Steve Seaford said teachers are already preparing materials to distribute to students online via Google Classroom and ParentSquare. The school will provide computers and options for internet access should the school be closed.
“We have applied to the state to be able to continue to provide lunches for students in the National School Lunch Program,” Seaford said.
Local churches have also suspended regular services, however several said they will be assisting the community in several capacities. Bethania Lutheran Church Pastor Chris Brown started a Facebook group called the SYV Coronavirus Community Advocacy. They will be implementing volunteer opportunities and live streaming services at https://bethanialutheran.net/media/live-stream/.
Pastor Sam Kiser of Crossroads Church said they will provide lunches to students in need. They will also be hosting a collective learning spaces available for families and students who want to gather to study together. There might be recreation as well.
In county-wide events the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show set for this weekend also had to cancel, and the Santa Barbara Earth Day event decided to postpone until July.
PCPA canceled the remaining shows of Julius Cesar, and said they will contact each of the ticket holders directly.
“PCPA’s plans remain in place for our upcoming production of The Sound of Music, scheduled to begin performances on April 23, 2020. Please continue to visit pcpa.org or contact the PCPA Box Office for the most up to date information,” said Mark Booher, Artistic Director/Associate Dean of PCPA.
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Sea Center are closed from March 14 – 31.
The Santa Barbara Zoo remains open however they are limiting access, visit www.santabarbarazoo.org for details.
The annual St. Patrick’s Day parade set for this weekend in Ventura also canceled.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department released a new information portal to augment its current website in response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The new user-friendly communication portal uses accessible icons to organize information as a one-stop -shop information source for the community. The site is easy to navigate for the most current updates and trusted information from public health officials, as well as a section intended for the Public Health Department’s critical community health care partners.
The new COVID-19 website is located at http://PublicHealthSBC.org with information available in English and Spanish.
The site features daily status reports, general information about coronavirus, prevention tips, frequently asked questions, and links to information released by the California Department of Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
To date there are 1,215 cases in the United States with 988 of those still under investigation, and a total of 36 reported deaths, according to the CDC.
Brooke Holland of Noozhawk contributed to this report. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.