Questions answered regarding the Alcoholic Beverage Control's recently enacted 'Notice of Regulatory Relief'


Does a police chief, sheriff, mayor, or other local official have the authority to suspend the enforcement of state law?
No. A police chief, sheriff, mayor, or other local official may have the authority to suspend local ordinances and local conditions on business licenses, but only the state can suspend the enforcement of state laws. Accordingly, all licensees should follow the Notice of Regulatory Relief, because any licensee in violation of its terms of suspension of enforcement may be prosecuted criminally or administratively. For example, if the department directs a licensee to cease selling drinks to go or delivering alcoholic beverages that they would not normally be authorized to deliver, that licensee must immediately do so.

Un-Prohibition: Alcoholic beverages laws temporarily eased


Can restaurants, bars, and manufacturers sell alcohol in manufactured sealed containers without food?
If restaurants are selling manufacturer sealed alcohol to go it is not required to be in conjunction with a food purchase. This is a privilege restaurants have always had in regards to beer and wine, and the notice has temporarily extended that to distilled spirits for licensees that are authorized to sell distilled spirits previously.
Do restaurants have to sell alcohol “to-go” in open containers with a food item?
A restaurant with an ABC license may only pour and sell alcoholic beverages “to-go” (mixed drinks or filled growlers, for example) in conjunction with meals sold “to-go”. In addition, those poured or mixed drinks must be in a sealed container with a lid with no holes for straws, etc., and may only be transported in the trunk of a vehicle and consumed by a patron when they get home. However, restaurants may also sell manufacturer sealed containers without food. For further clarification, please see information previously provided in the Notice of Regulatory Relief.
Are there limits on pure spirits to the “to-go” open containers rule?
If the licensee can sell distilled spirits under its license, they can also give pure spirits along with mixed drinks and cocktails in a sealed open container. These are subject to the same rules and requirements as all other “to-go” open containers.

For a bar owner who recently bought several kegs and no longer can sell beer from a keg on the premises because there is no food prepared on it, can they sell the kegs?
Yes, you can sell the kegs if they have not yet been tapped. You can sell the kegs to another ABC licensed retailer, such as a restaurant or store, or you can sell them to consumers directly either curbside or have them delivered to the consumer’s home.
For a bar owner who recently bought several kegs and no longer can sell beer from a keg on the premises because there is no food prepared on it, can they sell the kegs?
Yes, you can sell the kegs if they have not yet been tapped. You can sell the kegs to another ABC licensed retailer, such as a restaurant or store, or you can sell them to consumers directly either curbside or have them delivered to the consumer’s home.
If breweries want to sell beer in a to-go container with a secured lid (like a mason jar), do they also have to sell you a food item?
Beer manufacturers (Type 01 and 23) may sell their beer in sealed containers (including growlers) “to-go.” This would also allow for sealed mason jars as those would be considered manufacturer sealed containers. They cannot sell any alcohol in improvised to-go containers with sealed lids without food like the requirements on restaurants and bars.
Type 75 brewpub restaurant licensees are retailers that also brew beer. These licensees may sell “to-go” in the same manner as other retailers (restaurants and bars that have kitchens). If they choose to sell poured or mixed drinks in sealed containers (beer, wine, or distilled spirits) to go, they may only be sold in conjunction with (i.e., at the same time as) bona fide meals (i.e., not simply snack items, such as potato chips) that are actually prepared on the premises (i.e., not pre-packed food items prepared elsewhere).
Can bars that do not sell food open to sell liquor to go?
Bars may sell alcohol to go in manufacturers pre-packaged and sealed containers, including distilled spirits, pursuant to the Notice of Regulatory Relief. They cannot sell in open containers such as a “to-go” cup with a lid or a growler at this time because the Department has limited this exception to allow “to-go” alcoholic beverages to be sold only in conjunction with food sales.
What does the Department expect when it states that, “licensed premises may do so when sold in conjunction with meals prepared for pick-up or delivery?” Does that mean that the alcohol and meal must be sold in the same transaction?
“In conjunction” means that to-go sales of alcohol that are not in manufacturer sealed containers can only be made in the same transaction as food sales (bona fide eating places) for pick-up or delivery.
Aside from a requirement that the lid prevents the customer from drinking its contents, are there any other requirements on to-go containers for alcohol sold in conjunction with food?
There are no further limits upon the to-go container besides the lid limiting the consumer from drinking by sip or straw from the container without removing the lid.
Why require meals to be sold in conjunction with the open container to-go alcohol?
This is like the bona fide eating place requirements already found in California alcohol law. The rationale is that because the service of meals is the primary business of the premises, and the alcohol is a secondary companion to those meals, it is consuming alcohol alone without food that is generally discouraged. This is a standard that has repeatedly been used in California law to extend alcohol licensee privileges.
What type of alcohol containers are allowed in the Department’s drive-thru sale options allowed in the notice?
The drive-thru options are meant to be used for manufactured sealed containers at off-sale locations, such as a liquor store offering curbside service. These off-sale licensees only have the privilege of selling in manufacturer sealed containers, and not the open containers discussed above.
Is there a mandatory closure for the bars and restaurants everywhere?
For public safety purposes, the Governor’s Office has recommended the closure of certain license types where people congregate and social distancing does not typically occur, including bars (On-Sale Public Premises). Restaurants (Bona-Fide Eating Places) should cease all dine-in eating and drinking. Check with local county and city jurisdictions as they may have stricter parameters.
It is recommended that hotel licensees follow the restaurant guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health (no dine-in service; take-out only).
Are we still able to deliver alcohol?
All manufacture licensees with off-sale privileges may deliver their own products to consumers as provided under the current Notice of Regulatory Relief from the Department.
Off-sale licensees are permitted to deliver the alcohol authorized to be sold under their license to consumers. On-sale licensees may sell and deliver all alcohol permitted to be sold under their license to consumers.
It is the responsibility of the delivery person to verify the age of the customer purchasing the alcoholic beverages to ensure delivery is not made to underage persons. The licensee is ultimately responsible for the delivery and may be subject to license discipline if alcohol is delivered to minors or obviously intoxicated persons.
Can on-sale retailers fill or refill growlers to go?
Under the relief provided in the Notice of Regulatory Relief, growlers may be filled or refilled by on-sale retailers for consumers to go.
For growlers or other containers that are filled with beer by the retailer, the Department will not be enforcing labelling requirements.

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