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
On July 24, 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman announced changes to the “Safe Start,” Washington’s phased approach to reopening.. The governor’s order impacts all on-premises licensees with added restrictions to hours of service, table size allowances, and overall occupancy allowances. In addition distilleries, wineries, breweries and taverns have further restrictions.  The LCB is offering guidance for restaurants and other on-premises liquor-licensed businesses that will be impacted by the restrictions. These restrictions are effective July 30, 2020.

Please read the LCB Special Notice sent July 27, 2020 for details.  

July 31, 2020 Update for Taverns, Breweries, Wineries and Distilleries
Licensees - On Friday, Governor Inslee announced clarification regarding indoor seating for Taverns, Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries during Phase 2 and Phase 3 of Washington’s Safe Start phased reopening plan.

If you are a Tavern, Winery, Brewery, or Distillery able to meet the following food requirement then it is not necessary to change your license type to a Spirits/Beer/Wine or Beer/Wine Restaurant License in order to allow indoor seating during Phase 2 and Phase 3.

For Taverns, Breweries, Wineries and Distilleries:

Indoor seating is prohibited unless the establishment provides all of the following:

  • Provide a reasonable number of menu items such as: sandwiches, salad, soup, pizza, hamburgers, fry orders, or substantial hors d'oeuvres/appetizers.
  • These menu items must be prepared onsite and may not be offered by a contractor.
  • Obtain any required food service permit/license from their local jurisdiction.

Guest occupancy is limited to 50% capacity. All parties and tables must be limited to five guests or less. Indoor guests must be members of the same household.

For more information on additional requirements for Taverns, Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries during Phase 2 and Phase 3, please see this link

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.

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.

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. 

Temporary Reclassification of Restaurant Lounges and Tap Rooms

Impacted License Types:

  • Beer/Wine Restaurants, licensed under 66.24.320
  • Spirits, Beer, and Wine Restaurants licensed under 66.24.410

Effective immediately, areas of a restaurant license classified as off limits to persons under the age of 21 are being declassified as age restricted, except for seating at the actual bar counter. This declassification is to assist in facilitating the Governor’s phase in approach to reopen restaurants with bars. This declassification allows affected restaurants to utilize the area normally restricted to minors as additional dedicated dining to allow for table spacing in the restaurant to meet social distancing requirements. 

During this period of time, persons under 21 years of age are allowed to be seated in the area normally restricted to minors without being in criminal violation of RCW 66.44.310, minor frequenting an off- limits area. Persons under 21 years of age are still restricted from sitting or standing at the actual bar.Once phase 4 begins, allowing for full occupancy in restaurants, normal classifications will considered in place based on the permanently approved floor plans. Once phase 4 begins, minors will not be permitted to frequent the areas classified by the Board as age restricted areas.

Licensees should keep this declassification notice readily available, or posted with the license, in case questions arise from local law enforcement conducting checks in age restricted areas.

Clarifications and Answers in Response to WA Hospitality Association Questions
The Washington Hospitality Association (WHA) asked several clarifying questions that were addressed directly with the organization. However, the information has value for all alcohol licensees. Please see this table with WHA’s questions and the LCB response.

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.

Age-Restricted Restaurants that Sell Alcohol

  • Applies to: Age-Restricted Restaurants that Sell Alcohol

Due to the related COVID – 19 impacts, the LCB is temporarily relaxing enforcement of the prohibition of minors being present in restricted areas of licensed restaurants in limited circumstances. This temporary allowance is to accommodate families that have been impacted by school closures. Effective immediately, and until the Governor’s Stay Home proclamation is lifted, the LCB will not enforce the minor frequenting laws for licensees who have children under the age of 16 on the licensed premises in age-restricted areas, so long as the following conditions are met:

  • The person under 16 years of age is a child or grandchild of the licensee;
  • The person under 16 years of age is not engaging in any work or act of employment for the licensed business;
  • The person under 16 years of age does not possess any alcohol products; and
  • The business is not allowing any customers into the licensed business for sales, and only engaging in curbside pickup, walk up window pick up, or delivery.

Governor's Guidance for Licensees that Serve Alcohol (Including Live Entertainment)

On July 8, Gov. Inslee issued additional guidance for restaurants and taverns in Phase 2 and 3. 

On July 9, guidance was additionally issued regarding live entertainment.  


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

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.

Private Clubs 
Effective immediately,  Private Clubs can open for indoor dining – following the same COVID-19 health and safety restrictions as taverns, breweries, wineries, and distilleries.

As “bars” (establishments which do not sell prepared foods along with beverages) in our state remain closed, Private Clubs who wish to be open for service must offer a “reasonable” number of food items along with beverage service. A more detailed definition of “reasonable” will be provided following an upcoming discussion with the Department of Health – which licenses food establishments.

To operate now, Private Clubs must meet all the restaurant requirements related to COVID-19 – including the restriction on sales and service after 10 pm., customer and staff masks, social distancing, and other requirements found on the LCB’s COVID-19 webpage for licensees and the state’s guidance for businesses webpage.
Private Clubs may not sell liquor to the public and are not permitted to be open as a social drinking clubs only. Social drinking clubs would be considered a bar, and therefore not allowed to have indoor beverage consumption. 


  • Hotels with restaurants may operate the restaurant 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
  • Hotels with restaurants may operate the restaurant 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

These allowances will expire within 30 days following the county where the business is located entering Phase 4 of Washington’s Safe Start plan.

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.

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