Guidance - Alcohol Licensees

Guidance for Licensees with Alcohol Privileges: Effective Immediately
The following guidance is intended to help licensees with liquor privileges understand the temporary allowances available to them while the COVID-19 restrictions are in place. 

Alert for On-Premises Liquor Licensed Businesses
 

Effective January 11, 2021, Gov. Inslee's Healthy Washington -- Roadmap to Recovery, will guide the state's approach to liquor licensed economic activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The expiration for each LCB allowance will be in place indefinitely. The LCB will notify on its website the exact date of regional expirations. This directive supersedes the previous Safe Start phased approach. 

Restaraunts are closed for indoor dine-in service during Phase 1. Once the region where a liquor-licensed location is approved for Phase 2, with the exception of establishments closed to patrons under age 21, limited indoor dining is permitted under the following criteria: 

  • Indoor dining is limited to 25 percent capacity
  • Establishments must close by 11 p.m.
  • Maximum of 6 people per table
  • Two households per table

Outdoor and to-go service is permitted during Phase 1, provided that all outdoor dining must comply with the requirements of the Outdoor Dining Guidance. Table size for outdoor dining is limited to a maximum of six people. LCB Licensing and Enforcement staff developed this pictorial document to help educate staff regarding the requirements. It may also be of benefit to licensees.

The Governor has released additional guidance regarding Open Air and Outdoor Seating RequirementsRestaurant, Tavern, Breweries, Wineries and Distilleries COVID-19 Requirements and Theater and Performing Arts in Phase 2. The 11pm closure requirement now only applies to alcohol sales, service, and consumption.  Food service and associated activities (such as card room operations) may continue past 11pm.

The LCB recognizes the challenges licensees are facing during this period. We continue to provide allowances and make adjustments where possible in an effort to help businesses do business. Please continue to visit the LCB website for tthe latest information.  

Hours of Service:  Guidance Clarification:
Questions have come in related to to-go and delivery sales happening at restaurants after 11:00 p.m. The newest restrictions in the governor’s guidance, specify that all alcohol sales for on-premises consumption must stop at 11:00 p.m. 

Adding or Extending Outside Liquor Service
In order to add or extend outside liquor service, liquor licensees must request floor plan approvals from the WSLCB’s Licensing Division. The process is detailed here.  

Pre-Mixed Cocktails for Sale and Delivery
In addition to the current delivery allowances, effective immediately, restaurants with a Spirits, Beer, and Wine (S/B/W) license issued by LCB may temporarily sell pre-mixed alcoholic drinks (“cocktails”) for consumption off the licensed premises.
Detailed requirements for this practice are available in this May 6 Important Message for Spirits/Beer/Wine Restaurants Regarding Pre-Mixed Cocktails

Curbside Service and Delivery
In addition, LCB will temporarily allow Spirits, Beer, Wine Restaurant license holders to sell closed, manufacturer-sealed, bottles or cans of beer, wine and spirits – in combination with the sale of "to go" food or by delivery. This change only applies to sales of alcohol that includes the purchase of food. Liquor sales without food purchases are not included or allowed under this temporary allowance.

Beer, Wine, Spirit (SBW) Restaurant, Beer and Wine (BW) Restaurant, and Tavern licensees will be allowed to make curbside and/or delivery sales of alcohol under the following conditions:

  • Curbside service:
    • Beer must be in growlers, kegs, or factory sealed bottles and cans.
    •  Wine must be in factory sealed bottles.
    • Spirits must be in factory sealed bottles (SBW restaurants only) or meet the requirements for pre-mixed cocktails.
       
  • Delivery:
    • Delivery of beer to include non-factory sealed cider crowlers, jugs or other similar, non-factory sealed containers is allowed.
    • Delivery of malt liquor in kegs or other containers capable of holding four gallons or more liquid is allowed, provided that kegs or containers are factory sealed and that the keg sales requirements (see WAC 314-02-115) are followed.
      •  Beer must be in factory sealed bottles, cans, or kegs holding 4 or more gallons.
      • Wine must be in factory sealed bottles.
      • Spirits must be in factory sealed bottles (SBW restaurants only) or meet the requirements for pre-mixed cocktails. Delivery or curbside sales of bottles of spirits is allowed when purchased with a meal/food. (S/BW restaurants only).
         

Kegs - Breweries and Microbreweries: 
With the passage of HB 2412, domestic breweries licensed under RCW 66.24.240 and microbreweries licensed under RCW 66.24.244 are not subject to RCW 66.28.200 when selling or offering for sale kegs or other containers containing four gallons or more of malt liquor of the licensee's own production, or when selling, offering for sale, or leasing kegs or other containers that will hold four gallons or more of liquid. This requirement is not in effect yet, but due to the impacts of COVID-19 LCB will not enforce this during the period before the official effective date of HB 2412, which is June 11, 2020. 

Delivery of Growlers:
Affected Licensees:  Breweries, liquor stores, beer and wine specialty stores
Breweries and liquor stores may deliver growlers. Any delivery must be made by licensee employees, as third party vendors are not allowed to deliver alcohol. Endorsements for temporary activity are not needed as the temporary allowance will be discontinued after the proclamation is lifted.

Growlers and Crowlers: 
LCB will temporarily not enforce the prohibitions on pre-filling growlers and crowlers under the following conditions:

  • Pre-filling is limited to daily quantities expected to sell each day during business hours.
  • Pre-filled containers may not be kept or stored beyond the current business day use.
  • This does not in any manner waive federal requirements or prohibitions, and should not be a defense to federal non-compliance.
  • This is only valid during the time period the Governor’s COVID-19 Proclamation for business restrictions is in effect.
     

Trucking services for liquor licensed distributors:
The LCB is providing a temporary allowance to permit licensed distributors, and other industry members, to sell trucking and distribution services for non-liquor items to licensed retailers under the following conditions:

  • Provided services must be at rates that are not less than the cost of wages, equipment use, and fuel paid by the industry member to provide these trucking and distribution services and must not be provided without charge;
  • Licensed distributors or industry members may carry loads that include liquor and other items. Liquor orders must be invoiced separately from any other products delivered.
  • Trucking service contracts must be made available to all retailers in a service area and may not be exclusive.
  • All record keeping requirements continue to apply.
     

Required signature for home delivery:
Due to the related COVID–19 impacts, effective immediately, and until further notice, the LCB is temporarily relaxing enforcement of WAC 314-03-020(10)(b) and WAC 314-03-030(10)(b). Licensees with a delivery endorsement may choose to photograph the customers ID, or use other devices such as an app scanning the identification, in lieu of gaining a physical signature to document delivery to the customer.

 

Minors in Restricted Areas

The LCB is temporarily relaxing enforcement practices regarding the prohibition of minors being present in restricted areas of licensed restaurants under specific, limited circumstances.The allowance was designed to accommodate and support families impacted by school closures as a result of the state-wide COVID-19 response.Criteria include:

* The existence of a parent/child or grandparent/child relationship with the licensee;

* The child must not be performing any work;

* The child must not possess alcohol products; and

* Customers are not and will not be entering the licensed business for sales, but are engaging in curbside pickup, walkup window pickup, or delivery.

 

Outdoor Advertising and Money’s Worth:
LCB will temporarily not enforce the provisions related to distributors providing free outdoor signage on the premises of licensees for the purposes of advertising the on-premises restaurant or tavern location is open for takeout / "to go" business under the following conditions:

  • Signage must be standard, and not contain a licensee tradename.
  • Donations of signage are limited to restaurants and taverns.
  • Signage size limitations must meet current rule requirements.
  • Signs may not advertise any manufacturer, or contain any brand advertising.
  • A distributor is not obligated to provide any such signage, and an on-premise restaurant or tavern may not require a distributor to provide such signage as a condition for selling any alcohol to the restaurant or tavern.
  • This is only valid during the time period the Governor’s COVID-19 Proclamation for business restrictions is in effect.
     

Golf
This is to provide additional clarity on allowable food and alcohol service at liquor licensed locations with golf course service.  Golf courses need to follow the Governor’s proclamations and adhere to the phase approach described in the governor’s office communications.

In an effort to clarify the information, golf courses currently having approval for alcohol sales and service on the golf course may sell alcohol to go, as outlined in other advisements, as well as conduct sales and service for patron consumption while golfing on the course. Alcohol may be picked up at the clubhouse point of sale, or via cart service on the golf course. Until phasing allows for on premises consumption, golf courses may not allow consumption and gatherings in the indoor or outdoor dining areas of their licensed location. 

 

Clarifications for Industry Members Regarding Purchases of Alcoholic Beverages for First Responders

The LCB has received recent questions relating to opportunities to support first responders and health care workers by allowing people to buy alcoholic beverages for workers in these fields. Guidance has been provided to stakeholders directly. A general advisement is available here.  
 

Licensees Producing Hand Sanitizer

  • Applies to: Distillers, and Wineries who hold a class 5 permit

Information is available here for distillers and wineries holding a class 5 permit who wish to use their facilities and equipment to temporarily make hand sanitizer, or for distillers wishing to sell distilled alcohol for sanitizing purposes.

Note about Taxes:
If the alcohol is being sold for non-consumptive purposes (denatured) then there would be no spirits taxes or fees.  This has its roots in the statutory definition of spirits, which defines spirits as a beverage.  If the alcohol is not being sold for the purposes of consumption (e.g. to a hospital), or is used in the production of something that is not intended for consumption (sanitizer), then it would not meet the definition of spirits and no state spirits taxes or fees would be assessed.  Wineries engaging in hand sanitizer production with a class 5 permit are also not subject to the taxes for non-consumable products
 

Distributors Assisting Manufacturers

  • Applies to: Distributors, Manufacturers

Due to the COVID-19 impacts, questions have arisen related to distributor licensees assisting distillers / manufacturers with supply chain services to get alcohol for sanitizer delivered to Hospitals, Compound Pharmacies, and Medical Facilities. 

In conjunction with the advisement posted on March 24, 2020 “Guidance for Distillers Producing Hand Sanitizer”, the LCB is providing further clarification that any licensed alcohol distributor in Washington State may engage in supply services to Hospitals, Compounding Pharmacies, and Medical Facilities for denatured or non-denatured alcohol not intended for consumption. All standard record keeping still applies to any and all transactions within the state. This advisement is time limited for the duration of the Governor’s Proclamation related to COVID-19.
 

Night Clubs to Convert to a Spirits/Beer/Wine Restaurant License

Several nightclubs have requested to convert their license to a Spirits/Beer/Wine Restaurant (SBW) license so that they may access the ability to sell meals and alcohol to go. 

In order to convert your Night Club license to a SBW license, please submit a request via email to retailliquorlicensing@lcb.wa.gov.

Once your request has been received, you will be assigned to a licensing specialist who will request the following documents:

  • Menu - All menus are required to meet the food standards contained in WAC  314-02-035 to receive an S/B/W Restaurant License.
  • Floor plan - A floor plan will be required only if you plan to serve minors after obtaining an S/B/W Restaurant License. If you plan to continue serving only persons over the age of 21, no floor plan will be required.

A new Local Authority Notice or Public Posting Notice will not be required, since you are not upgrading your license privileges. LCB Licensing staff will try to expedite the license change process for Night Club licensees wishing to convert to SBW licenses. Once approved, you will receive a letter via email confirming the changes. A new business license will be mailed within one to two business weeks. There is no fee for this license change.
 

Hotels

  • Hotels with restaurants may operate only outdoor dining and must be in compliance within all applicable COVID-19 restaurant guidance, including occupancy levels, table size, service hours, social distancing, mask requirements, and entertainment restrictions
  • Hotels with manager receptions must discontinue the reception alcohol service. This service is similar to non-restaurant activity encouraging socialization, and does not fall within the restaurant allowances
  • Hotel room service may be provided during normal hours of operations, as hotel rooms are not considered an extension of the restaurant

 

Food Requirements at Farmers Markets

Due to COVID – 19 impacts related to social distancing, and modifications of standard capacity and booth set up at Farmers Markets, the LCB is temporarily relaxing enforcement of food service requirements associated with alcohol sampling at Farmers Markets.  The LCB recognizes many breweries and wineries rely on adjacent food vendors to meet requirements set forth in WAC 314-20-018(2)(c). The absence of such vendors negatively impacts the ability for LCB licensees to engage in Farmers Market sampling activities without considerable expenses for independent food service. Therefore; the LCB will not enforce the food service requirement at Farmers Markets until a time within 30 days after the start of phase 4 of the Governor’s Safe Start Plan.

This advisement does not provide overriding approval to engage in samplings at Farmers Markets if the local health jurisdiction limits or restricts sampling activity. Liquor licensees must still adhere to all local heath requirements in order to legally engage in alcohol sampling at Farmers Markets.
 

Renting Kitchens to Non-Licensees
In order to support licensees during the COVID-19 pandemic, the WSLCB will allow liquor licensees with kitchens to rent out their kitchen space to food establishment businesses for the purposes of food preparation and cooking. In order to take advantage of this allowance, the following parameters must be followed:

  • The renter does not have ownership interest in any liquor licensed business;
  • The renter takes the final food product to go and does not serve customers out of the liquor licensed business;
  • The renter cooks and prepares food outside of the public service hours of the liquor licensee;
  • The liquor licensee secures or removes alcohol during the hours the renter is cooking and preparing food;
    • Examples of securing or removing alcohol include:
      • Locking (with a key and padlock) alcohol behind a gate, cabinet, or tap lock (if taps are present);
      • Locking access to the part of the establishment that contains alcohol during the hours the renter is present; and
      • Physically removing alcohol from the licensed premise during the hours the renter is present.
  • There is a standard operating contract that excludes any profit sharing between the liquor licensee and the renter;
  • The liquor licensee and renter follow public health and workplace safety guidelines. For more information, licensees and renters are encouraged to contact their local health department and the Department of Labor and Industries; and
  • The liquor licensee must submit a business agreement or contract to the WSLCB Licensing Division prior to execution of the business agreement or contract. This agreement or contract must detail how the preceding requirements will be met. Please submit any documents to Kitchens@lcb.wa.gov.

 

Contactless Deliveries of Alcohol from Distributors to Retailers

In the interest of public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, the WSLCB has made the following exception to allow for contactless delivery of alcohol from distributors to retailers:

  • Distributors may, but are not required to, deliver alcohol to retail licensees between the hours of 6am and 2am even if the retailer is not present or open for business.
  • Retailers may utilize a lockbox to allow access for the distributor’s employees to deliver product and collect payment.
  • Merchandising during closed hours, without retailer supervision, is not allowed.
  • Distributor employees must be over age 21 if delivering to a closed business.
  • Retailers voluntarily using this contactless service may pay by check, money order, or electronic funds transfer, or with a prepaid account. No cash sales are allowed without employee contact.
  • Distributors must initiate the deposit or transfer of funds by the next business day and complete the transaction within five days.
  • If product is delivered in error, existing rules apply for the retailer to notify the distributor and correct the error within eight days. Delivery of incorrect product, or non-sufficient funds transactions which result in the extension of credit, are the responsibility of both the retailer and distributor.

 

Silent Auctions of Alcohol
To assist non-profit organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic, the WSLCB will allow these organizations to engage in online silent auctions of alcohol if the following parameters are followed:

  • The non-profit organization obtains a special occasion license from the WSLCB;
  • Each online silent auction must not exceed one 7-day week in length;
  • The alcohol to be auctioned must be located at the non-profit organization’s office or headquarters;
  • The non-profit organization directly collects the money from the sale of alcohol;
  • The winners of the online silent auction are announced during the licensed period – (through a moderator in real time, or electronic notifications); and
  • Alcohol is picked up by the winners at the non-profit organization’s office or headquarters, or is shipped from this location directly to the winner’s address**. ID must be checked upon delivery or pick-up to ensure the customer is 21 or older.
     

Advisement RE: WAC 314-20-070 (Beer Returns) 
The LCB has been asked to provide clarity on defective beer returns as it relates to the COVID-19 crisis and accompanying restaurant reopening strategies. Current rule treats keg and package beer slightly differently. In efforts to accommodate businesses during this challenging time, we are providing the following guidance which will be applied for the duration of the Governor’s COVID-19 proclamations.

  • Overage beer will be considered defective for the purposes of WAC 314-20-070, so long as:
    • The beer is overage based on the expiration date
    • Overage keg beer has not been tapped
  • Claim adjustments are allowable for full kegs of beer
    • If the keg has not been tapped
    • Refunds for kegs are not allowable
    • Claim adjustments may occur in the form of exchanging the overage product
  • Product exchanges will be allowed for keg and packaged beer as follows:
    • Product must be exchanged for identical product if available
    • If identical product is not available, then product may be exchanged for like valued product

Please keep in mind, it is not mandatory for a distributor to take back overage or defective product, or provide claim adjustments for product.  The exchange is at the sole discretion of the distributor. 

Under Gov. Inslee's Healthy Washington -- Roadmap to Recovery, the expiration date for this allowance is unknown at this time. The WSLCB will notify on its website the exact date of regional expirations. 

** Note: For orders placed for out of state shipment, it is the special occasion licensee’s responsibility to ensure importation laws for other states are followed.  This includes obtaining any appropriate permits and authorizations, and also includes compliance with the destination state taxes.

 

 

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