End in Sight for Temporary Covid Relief Measures from CA ABC
The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control announced today end dates for the temporary relief measures announced in 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Depending on the specific regulatory relief in question, the relief granted by ABC, and the expanded privileges granted to many licensees during Covid, will come to an end on either June 30 or December 31, 2021.
To assist licensees during the difficulties that arose from shut downs and restricted operations during Covid, the ABC issued various Notices of Regulatory Relief, advising the industry that certain practices would essentially be temporarily permitted With the end of Covid somewhat in sight here in California, the ABC has now provided the end dates for these measures.
The following Notices of Regulatory relief will be rescinded and no longer effective as of the close of business on June 30, 2021.
- Returns of Alcoholic Beverages
- Retail-to-Retail Transactions
- Extension of Credit
- Drive-Thru Windows for Off-Sale Transactions
- Hours of Operations for Retail Sales
- Delivery Hours Extended to Midnight
- Distilled Spirits Manufacturers Providing High-Proof Spirits for Disinfection Purposes
- Virtual Wine Tastings
- Extension of Regulatory Relief for Club Licenses: Type 50, 51 and 52
The ABC is allowing certain items of regulatory relief to remain in place until the end of the year. The following Notices of Regulatory Relief will thus temporarily remain in place until December 31, 2021 and rescinded immediately thereafter.
- On-Sale Retailers Exercising Off-Sale Privileges
- Sales of Alcoholic Beverages To-Go
- Deliveries to Consumers
- Free Delivery
- Expansion of Licensed Footprint
- On-Sale Licensees without Kitchen Facilities
- “Virtual” Meet the Winemaker or Brewer Dinners
- Renewal of Relief for Charitable Promotions and Sales
- Relief from Type-75 Requirement to Produce 100 Barrels of Beer Annually
These changes will have a big impact on industry members who have spent over a year incorporating some of these practices into their sales, marketing and distribution programs. For example, as of June 30, Virtual Wine Tastings with consumers (where samples of wine were shipped to the consumer for the tasting) will no longer be permitted, although Virtual Winemaker Dinners in conjunction with licensed retailers can continue until December 31.
Absent legislative changes to the ABC Act, none of the regulatory relief measures provided by ABC during Covid will become permanent, so licensees should start preparing now to make these shifts. It should be noted that proposals are already pending in the legislature to keep some of these measures in place for the long term. For example, a bill is currently pending that would allow certain licenses to donate a portion of their proceeds to charities, which was previously prohibited.
For more information on what each of the Notices of Regulatory Relief specifically provided, please visit https://www.abc.ca.gov/law-and-policy/coronavirus19/ or contact Bahaneh Hobel.