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Temporary Liquor Laws See Prolonged Existence Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

States may have begun to ease Shelter-in-Place orders, but there are few signals that temporary liquor laws are anywhere close to fading. Passed in March and April, amendments to state liquor laws were established to encourage sales and keep establishments open without in-store and on-premise customers and dinners during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Last month, The BARS Program reported on liquor law amendments allowing alcohol to be delivered alongside food delivery in California, with similar practices in Colorado, New York, Texas, Nebraska and Maryland, according to The Sacramento Bee. In Alabama, an amendment passed by the ABC Board allows bars and restaurants to bring beer and wine out to a customer’s car.  And in Kansas, a similar amendment is in place with designated “to-go” parking stalls.1


Today, research indicates change likely won’t come quickly to these recent practices. In California, regulatory relief is said to cease once the governor and health experts determine conclusion of the pandemic; at which time establishments are to be given 10 days’ notice prior to discontinuing temporary practices.2 Concessions made to Washington State’s liquor laws are set to expire ‘within 30 days following the county where the business is located entering Phase 4 of the state’s Safe Start plan.’ Phase 4 in that state also allows gatherings of more than 50 people and the openings of night clubs and concert venues.3 In Texas, news headlines indicate the governor there is considering making temporary amendments law and allowing restaurants to serve alcohol to-go far into the future.4


At some point, as more restaurants resume traditional services and life returns to normal, temporary changes, like liquor/drinks to-go, will revert back to traditional formats before the shutdown. Afterall, these changes were never designed to be permanent. Remember to check with your state or city on the expiration of temporary changes. If you require assistance adapting to the “temporary normal,” or want to provide improved training for employees now or in the future, contact The BARS Program at or by calling 1-877-540-5500.



1 Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control Division, COVID-19 Concerns Regarding Sales on the Licensed Premises

2 California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, Frequently Asked Questions

3 Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, Washington State Guidelines Regarding the Coronavirus

4 Statesman, Abbott hints at permanent alcohol-to-go sales

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