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California ABC approves bars, wineries, distilleries and breweries to serve alcohol to-go

To-go alcoholic beverages have been approved in California at bars, wineries, distilleries, and breweries that operate out of a meal service's kitchen.

Posted: May 23, 2020 11:58 AM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - To-go alcoholic beverages have been approved in California at bars, wineries, distilleries, and breweries that operate out of a meal service's kitchen.

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) has announced that bars, wineries, distilleries, and breweries that do not have their own kitchens but that partner with meal providers will be able to sell alcoholic beverages to-go, as long as they are in a sealed container and in conjunction with a meal.

The announcement is the ABC’s Fifth Notice of Regulatory Relief and is part of the overall effort to temporarily relax regulations and assist over 50,000 small and large businesses facing severe economic challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In its first First Notice of Regulatory Relief announced on March 19th, the ABC provided guidance for on-sale licensees selling and delivering prepared drinks and pre-mixed cocktails in to-go containers in conjunction with meals prepared on-site. Since then, the department has received numerous requests to extend this to-go relief to on-sale licensees that do not operate kitchen facilities, such as many bars, wineries, distilleries, and breweries.

“We know businesses have suffered as they continue fighting to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said ABC Director Jacob Appelsmith. “We have heard directly from these businesses that the notices of regulatory relief can give them a boost and help bring more people back to work.”

Since March 19th, ABC has issued five Notices of Regulatory Relief, including authorizing take-out dining and alcoholic beverages to-go for more than 45,000 restaurants. This has allowed them to keep their operations going during a time when they were asked to remain closed to inside dining. ABC licensees have also been given temporary fee relief, and some regulations have been relaxed so that ABC licensed businesses could unload their inventory and products to other ABC retail outlets they normally can’t conduct business with.

Last Friday, May 15th, the Fourth Notice of Regulatory Relief was issued that authorized thousands of ABC licensees to expand their premises footprint by using parking lots, patios, or even sidewalks to help fight COVID-19 by spreading out patrons and providing more areas for physical distancing.

Additionally, ABC is temporarily allowing:

• Virtual wine tasting to help California’s 6,300 wineries
• Free delivery of alcohol to consumers
• Extended alcoholic beverage delivery hours
• Extended credit transactions beyond 30 days
• Alcohol transactions through pass out windows or slide out trays
• Distilleries to make hand sanitizers and disinfectants so long as it they are cleared through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The ABC has carefully considered the public’s health, safety, and welfare in providing this relief and the department has concluded that none of these regulatory relief measures, exercised on a temporary basis, will jeopardize Californians’ health, safety, and welfare.

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