Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is committed to public safety and providing the very best customer service possible. We are aware that this pandemic has had very real and immediate impacts on businesses, community-based organizations, and local government agencies we serve and work with. Because the stakes are so high, we understand that we need to be as flexible as we can during this very difficult phase of confronting this virus.

See below for contact information and frequently asked questions.

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Notice of Regulatory Relief

Pursuant to the Constitution of the State of California, Article XX, Section 22, and in furtherance of Governor Newsom’s emergency declarations and orders regarding the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is temporarily suspending enforcement of specific legal prohibitions.

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Office Closures

ABC offices throughout the state will be closed to the public in response to Governor Newsom’s Stay at Home order to protect the health and well-being of all Californians. During this time, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control will continue to serve the public.

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Guidance to Licensees on Limitations of On-Sale Privileges

On March 15, 2020, the Governor directed restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries to contribute to the statewide effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. On March 16, 2020, the California Department of Public Health issued further guidance regarding this effort.

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Contact

Additional information may be obtained by contacting:

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

Email us at headquarters@abc.ca.gov.
Call (916) 419-2500

Frequently Asked Questions

Important Notice: All provisions of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, including licensing requirements, the prohibition against selling alcoholic beverages to minors and obviously intoxicated patrons, and tied-house and trade practice restrictions, remain in effect and subject to enforcement unless the Department has provided express notice that specific provisions will not be enforced. The Department has issued a Notice of Regulatory Relief, as well as guidance on Governor Newsom’s executive orders. These can be found on the Department’s website and should be consulted in conjunction with these frequently asked questions and responses.

These frequently asked questions are intended to respond to some of the most frequently asked questions that have arisen since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. It is subject to modification at any time. Please check back periodically for updates. You are encouraged to subscribe to updates.

Does a police chief, sheriff, mayor, or other local official have the authority to suspend the enforcement of state law?

No. A police chief, sheriff, mayor, or other local official may have the authority to suspend local ordinances and local conditions on business licenses, but only the state can suspend the enforcement of state laws. Accordingly, all licensees should follow the Notice of Regulatory Relief, because any licensee in violation of its terms of suspension of enforcement may be prosecuted criminally or administratively. For example, if the Department directs a licensee to cease selling drinks to-go or delivering alcoholic beverages that they would not normally be authorized to deliver, that licensee must immediately do so.

Do ABC licensees follow local orders if they are different than state orders?

If a licensee believes there are conflicts in orders issued by the state and those issued by local authorities, the safest approach is to follow the most restrictive order until clarification is issued.

Is there a mandatory closure for the bars and restaurants everywhere?

For public safety purposes, the Governor’s Office has recommended the closure of certain license types where people congregate and social distancing does not typically occur, including bars (On-Sale Public Premises).  Restaurants (Bona-Fide Eating Places) should cease all dine-in eating and drinking. Check with local county and city jurisdictions as they may have stricter parameters.

It is recommended that hotel licensees follow the restaurant guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health (no dine-in service; take-out only). 

Are bars allowed to sell alcoholic beverages to-go?

Under current law, all bars and restaurants holding ABC licenses are permitted to sell alcoholic beverages in manufacturer, pre-packaged, and pre-sealed containers, to consumers for consumption off the licensed premises. They may sell only the types of alcoholic beverages that are allowed to be sold under their license for consumption on the premises, except for distilled spirits, and Type-75 licensees may only sell to-go beer that they produce on their licensed premises. Some licenses are subject to a specific license condition prohibiting off-sale privileges. Notwithstanding this, in accordance with the Notice of Regulatory Relief (“Notice”) the Department issued on March 19, 2020, the Department will not be enforcing some of the statutory restrictions. As stated in the Notice (see Item 4), licensed bars and restaurants may sell any alcoholic beverages to-go that they are allowed to sell under their license for consumption on the premises, in manufacturer pre-package and pre-sealed containers. This includes distilled spirits (for those licenses allowed to sell distilled spirits) and, for Type-75 licenses, alcoholic beverages other than beer produced on the premises. In addition, the Department will not be enforcing any conditions that prohibit off-sale privileges or that restrict the hours of service (although the statutory prohibited hours will still be enforced; alcoholic beverages may not be sold between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. each day; see Notice, Item 7).

In addition to businesses that hold ABC licenses for bona fide eating places (restaurants; license types 41, 47, and 75), businesses that operate as bars (holding license types 40, 42, and 48) that have kitchen facilities and actually prepare meals on the licensed premises, may also sell alcoholic beverages to-go in the same manner that the Department has provided for restaurants (see Item 5 in the Notice). This means that any beer, wine, or distilled spirits (as applicable) may be sold in containers filled by the retailer as long as:

  1. The container is sealed with a secure lid or cap and in a manner designed to prevent consumption without the removal of the lid or cap;
  2. Such alcoholic beverages are only sold in conjunction with a bona fide meal prepared on the licensed premises for pick-up or delivery; and
  3. The required notice is provided.

The sealing of a lid with holes in it by some method that cannot be easily removed by a customer after the sale is acceptable.

It is the responsibility of the delivery person to verify the age of the customer purchasing the alcoholic beverages to ensure delivery is not made to underage persons. The licensee is ultimately responsible for the delivery of alcoholic beverages.