Modification of COVID-19 Relief Regarding On-Premises Meal Requirements
The information provided in this Advisory is subject to the stage of reopening in the county in which the licensed premises is located.
Update: This summary has been superseded by the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. As the guidance and response from the California Department of Public Health to the COVID-19 pandemic have changed, the rules and parameters for ABC Licensees have also changed.
Disclaimer: Industry advisories are not regulatory, nor do they have the force of law. These advisories serve merely to help clarify what statutes/regulations mean. Please consult the statute, regulation, and/or an attorney before taking any action to ensure compliance with the law.
In recent COVID-19 Industry Guidance, the California Department of Public Health removed the requirement that alcoholic beverages be served only in conjunction with meals. As a result, the Department has reviewed its prior Notices of Regulatory Relief and Frequently Asked Questions. This Industry Advisory is intended to provide guidance to licensees with respect to operational issues going forward during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, the Department’s prior Relief No. 14 in the Fourth Notice of Regulatory Relief, “Expansion of Licensed Footprint,” and various FAQs, were modified to be consistent with the information provided in this Advisory.
The information provided in this Advisory is subject to the stage of reopening in the county in which the licensed premises is located. Licensees should ensure that their plans to reopen their businesses to customers are consistent with all applicable public health directives and local government requirements and limitations.
Exercising On-Sale Privileges on the Licensed Premises
Licensees that have the privilege to allow alcoholic beverages to be consumed on the licensed premises may now fully exercise those privileges in the same manner as they could prior to the COVID-19 crisis, as soon as local public health authorities authorize on-premises service, and subject to the various guidance from State and local health officials, such as social distancing, occupancy limits, personal protective equipment, etc. This means that the prior restriction that alcoholic beverages be served only in conjunction with bona fide meals has been rescinded.
Bars (license types 40, 42, and 48) may now serve alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises without the requirement to also provide meals (either prepared themselves or under an agreement with a meal provider pursuant to the Fifth Notice of Regulatory Relief). This applies also to wineries (Type-02), breweries (Type-01 or Type-23), and distilleries (Type-04 and Type-74; subject to the tasting limitations) that do not operate a bona fide eating place at the premises of production.
Bona fide eating places (restaurants; license types 41, 47, and 75) are still required to operate as bona fide eating places in accordance with Business and Professions Code section 23038 (and related provisions of law) in the same manner required of them prior to the COVID-19 crisis. This means that while bona fide meals must be offered and available for service to guests, they are not required as a pre-condition to the service of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises (however, licensees must comply with any food-related conditions on their license). This applies also to wineries (Type-02), breweries (Type-01 or Type-23), and craft distilleries (Type-74; or Type-04 distilled spirits manufacturers that previously operated a bona fide eating place as a Type-74) that do operate a bona fide eating place at the premises of production.
Club licensees (license types 50, 51, and 52) may exercise the same pre-COVID-19 crisis privileges of serving alcoholic beverages to members and bona fide guests of members for consumption on the licensed premises.
Exercising On-Sale Privileges under a COVID-19 Temporary Catering Authorization
Licensees that obtain a COVID-19 Temporary Catering Authorization to operate in an expanded licensed area subject to the Fourth Notice of Regulatory Relief (No. 14) may now do so in the same manner that they could exercise their license privileges on the permanently licensed premises. This means that such licensees may, within the expanded licensed area, engage in the same conduct as they could on their licensed premises as detailed above.
Alcoholic Beverages To-Go
As explained in the First Notice of Regulatory Relief (and related FAQs), under existing law on-sale licensees may exercise off-sale retail privileges with respect to manufacturer pre-packaged containers of beer and wine (or beer only for Type-40 licenses). The Department previously gave Notice that it would not enforce the prohibition against Type-47, Type-48, and Type-75 licensees from also selling off-sale manufacturer pre-packaged containers of distilled spirits, and that Type-74 licensees (craft distillers) may also deliver pre-sealed containers of distilled spirits to consumers away from their licensed premises (subject to the 2.25 liter per customer per day limit). This relief will continue at this time.
Also as explained in the First Notice of Regulatory Relief (and related FAQs), under existing law licensees with on-sale privileges are prohibited from selling pre-poured or pre-mixed drinks prepared on the licensed premises for consumption off the licensed premises. As part of its regulatory relief, however, the Department has provided that such pre-poured or pre-mixed drinks may be prepared on the licensed premises for consumption off the licensed premises (“to-go” drinks) only in conjunction with bona fide meals prepared on the licensed premises or under an agreement with a meal provider (as detailed in the Fifth Notice of Regulatory Relief). This regulatory relief will continue at this time, and the requirement of a meal will remain in effect.
In addition, the relief afforded to club licensees (license types 50, 51, and 52) for off-sale and to-go deliveries of alcoholic beverages as detailed in the Fourth Notice of Regulatory Relief will continue, with the same restriction that such sales may only be to bona fide members of the club (and with respect to to-go sales, only in conjunction with bona fide meals).