Golfers emerge from quarantine, tee off in Napa

At sunrise Thursday at the Eagle Vines Golf Course in Napa, golfers teed-off for the first time in weeks.

"I've been in quarantine for awhile. Got my beard going. Happy to be out here," said Eli Obstfeld, who went online yesterday to secure a 6:18 a.m. tee time at the course this morning.

Napa County's Chief Health Officer, Dr. Karen Relucio, issued the new, revised shelter-in-place order, that relaxes previous restrictions. She said the decision was made, in part, because of Napa County's relatively low COVID-19 infection rates.

"The volumes in the emergency department was low. Our hospitalization rates are low," she said. "So we made the decision to relax the orders just a little bit... because the effects of the shelter-in-place order are really having impacts on social, emotional and economic health."

Under the new, revised order, golfers must be Napa County residents. All water fountains and washing stations must be closed off. There is no sharing of equipment and golf carts are not allowed. 

"We've spaced everything out," said Eagle Vines General Manager David Griffis. "People are staying away from each other. Everyone's staying spread out."

Relucio said the rate of infection in Napa County has been flat - with an average of zero to four new cases every day since March 22.

"This decision was not made in a vacuum. bay area health officers have been having discussions about what a slight relaxation in orders would look like," said Relucio. "This is not a get-out-of-jail card, this is slightly opening the door just a crack."

As of last night, Napa County had 57 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and two deaths since the pandemic began. A total of 111 people are being monitored by county health officials, after coming in contact with people confirmed to have the virus.

Under the new, revised order, Napa County is also allowing construction, drive-in religious services, and landscaping and gardening maintenance, with proper physical distancing. Realtors can also who owner-occupied homes, whereas before they could only show vacant homes. Showings are limited to the realtor and two buyers, according to Jill Levy with Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty Wine Country Region.

“As a realtor we need to be masked. We need to wear gloves and we need to be wearing shoe coverings,” Levy said. “Buyers are not touching the house when they're touring the property.”

The new Napa County order also "strongly recommends" all Napa residents wear face coverings outside the home. The order is not mandatory like it is in six other Bay Area counties.

Relucio said that's because "a legal order requires law enforcement resources, and our law enforcement resources are stretched thin."

Allie Rasmus is a reporter forKTVU.  Email Allie at and follow her on Twitter@arasmusKTVU