Apr 3, 2020

A Message from ABC Director Jacob Appelsmith

The COVID–19 pandemic is unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetimes.

California has seen its share of disasters and emergencies, we have lived through fires, floods, earthquakes, droughts, and flu epidemics, and every time we have come out of them stronger and more resilient than before. This time will be no different, but we do have to acknowledge the unique challenges it poses and adapt our responses to them.

In past crises we have taken comfort through increased human contact, but now we are cooped up in our homes, separated from our co-workers, classmates, and friends. We don’t normally see empty schools, places of worship, concert halls, stadiums, government buildings, restaurants, bars, and pubs, but those stark images are real. Instead of gathering together in such places in defiance of this tragedy, or attending a fundraising event to help its victims, we are called upon to stay home and keep a safe distance from each other to slow the spread of this deadly virus.

Being asked to stay at home doesn’t mean simple acts of kindness are unwelcome, for the smallest one still forms a ripple, and multiple acts of kindness can start a wave. When we all work together, we can create the determination needed to defeat this disease and return us to our normal way of life.

In our professional lives here at the California ABC, we are all still working every day, and we remain committed to public safety and providing the very best customer service possible. Our offices continue to be closed to in-person visits to help stop the spread of COVID -19, but I want to reassure you that we are here to serve you. ABC Agents are continuously providing public safety services, enforcing underage drinking laws and assisting local law enforcement. ABC’s licensing staff continues to process permanent license applications and annual renewals. We will continue to accept mail-in license applications, and ABC staff will process those applications for permanent licenses, and renewal of licenses. If a site inspection is needed, we are out there doing it.

We are aware that this crisis has had real and immediate impacts on the 93,000 ABC licensed businesses that employ over a million Californians. Bartenders, waiters, waitresses, winemakers, distillers, brewers– these people are our neighbors, our friends, and right now they are severely challenged during a crisis that has forced layoffs and caused businesses to redesign their entire operations on the fly. Many have reinvented themselves overnight so they can provide service to the public at a time when they have been called to keep their doors closed.

ABC has heard from many of you and it has made a huge difference. With your input and hard work, ABC issued a Notice of Regulatory Relief on March 19th, and a Second Notice of Regulatory Relief on April 1st. The Governor also signed an Executive Order that provides for Temporary ABC Fee Relief. ABC staff has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions and developed responses to your questions, and we have also produced a tool to provide Guidance by License Type explaining what is temporarily allowable for each license type during this pandemic.

ABC’s top priority is the health and safety of Californians. We encourage the public and industry members to follow the announcements made by Governor Newsom, the California Department of Public Health at California Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response, local health and safety officials, and the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at CDC COVID-19 Updates.

Please visit ABC’s Contact page to reach a local office or email headquarters@abc.ca.gov if you have additional questions. We encourage all licensees to sign up with the Department for email notices. This is easily done by clicking subscribe. If you have any questions, please contact the Department

I pledge that ABC will be as flexible as possible as we confront this virus together. Health officials have called on all of us to be vigilant about washing our hands and practicing social or physical distancing to halt the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Together, we will get through this pandemic.

 

 

Be safe and be well,  

Jacob Appelsmith, Director, California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control