Sep 1, 2020

Blueprint for a Safer Economy

This Advisory is intended to provide ABC licensees with additional information and aid them in understanding what they can and cannot do pursuant to the recently issued Statewide Public Health Officer Order and Blueprint for a Safer Economy (Blueprint) that were issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on August 28, 2020.

In accordance with the Blueprint, businesses will be able to operate at different levels based upon the tier of the county where they are located. Tiers (1 through 4) are determined by specified benchmarks related to the incidence of COVID-19 in each county and regulated by CDPH and local county officials. ABC licensees should identify which tier their county is currently placed by visiting the COVID-19 website and, based upon that, determine the level of operation that they may engage in by visiting Dimmer Framework August 2020.

Although different ABC license types have different license privileges, for purposes of opening in accordance with the Blueprint for all licenses but wineries, the issue is simply whether the licensed business serves bona fide meals or not. If no bona fide meals are served, then the licensed business must operate in accordance with the limitations established for “Bars, Breweries, and Distilleries.” If bona fide meals are served, then the licensed business may operate in accordance with the requirements established for “Restaurants.” If the licensed business is a winery, the licensed business must operate in accordance with the limitations established for “wineries.”

CDPH has issued specific guidance for different types of ABC-licensed operations (Restaurants providing takeout, drive-through, and delivery; Restaurants, Bars, and Wineries; Dine-In Restaurants; Restaurants providing outdoor dining, takeout, drive-through, and delivery). In accordance with such guidance, alcoholic beverages may only be sold in conjunction with, and in the same transaction as, a meal. (It is recommended that the various CDPH guidance documents be reviewed for the particular details.) While this does not mean that a meal is required to be sold in conjunction with each alcoholic beverage served per customer, ABC will look at the totality of a licensed business’ operations in determining whether it is serving legitimate meals in a bona fide manner or if the food offered is a mere pretext for opening under the Blueprint. In short, the primary focus of the licensed premises should be on bona fide meal service, with the service of alcoholic beverages only as a secondary service in support of that primary focus, and that alcoholic beverages may only be served in conjunction with such meals. Information about what constitutes a bona fide meal may be found in prior ABC guidance in What is required to be considered a “meal”?.

Licensees should also familiarize themselves with any additional restrictions imposed by their local public health agencies. If local requirements are stricter than the CDPH guidance, then those local restrictions apply.


Additional information may be obtained by contacting:

Alcoholic Beverage Control
3927 Lennane Drive, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95834

Email us at
Call (916) 419-2500