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Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission Advisories

Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission Advisories

September 14, 2020

On September 22, 2020, Governor Baker updated the Sector Specific Workplace Safety Standards for Restaurants to Address Covid-19. The text of the updated safety standards may be found HERE.

Licensees are reminded that until Phase IV commences, all licensees for the sale of alcoholic beverages for on- premises consumption must provide seated food service with the sale of alcohol. The food must be prepared on- site and under a retail food permit issued by a local licensing authority pursuant to 105 CMR 590.00.

Beginning Monday, September 28, 2020, pursuant to the updated safety standards for restaurants, Licensees may:

  • Provide bar seating to patrons provided that either:
    • There are no active work areas or working staff behind the bar are at least 6 feet away; or
    • There is a physical barrier (e.g. Plexiglas) separating customers from the bar space that is at least 30 inches high and a gap/ opening at the bottom of the barrier is allowed for food and drink service as long as the gap/ opening is no more than 8 inches high.
  • Allow parties of up to 10 individuals to sit together at a table.
  • Open recreation amenities which are allowed to open in Step 1 of Phase III (such as arcade games) if all safety protocols in the Arcades & Other Indoor & Outdoor Game & Recreation Businesses are adhered to, including the requirement that active use of pool tables and other games involving patrons not seated at tables is not permitted in areas where food service is provided.

The updated safety standards for restaurants further require that:

  • Customers being served at the bar must remain seated. Service to standing customers is prohibited.
  • Parties must be spaced at least 6 feet from other parties.
  • Subject to any applicable building and fire code requirements, bar areas may be reconfigured to accommodate table seating that complies with all spacing and other requirements in these COVID-19 safety standards. Tables must not be placed within 6 feet of the staffed bartending area.
  • Laminated reusable menus must be sanitized between each use.

As always, all licensees must ensure that they comply with the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and that sales of alcoholic beverages take place only as authorized by federal, state, and local law. All questions should be directed to ABCC Executive Director Ralph Sacramone at rsacramone@tre.state.ma.us or (617) 727-3040 ext. 731.

September 11, 2020

On September 10, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker issued an Order Making Certain Phase III Adjustments (also known as COVID-19 Order No. 50), which extends the period for outdoor table service by licensees licensed for on-premises consumption. The text of the Governor’s Order can be found HERE.

Pursuant to this Order, local licensing authorities (“LLA”) may approve requests for expansion of outdoor table service or extensions of earlier granted approvals issued pursuant to Section 4 of COVID-19 Order No. 351, from November 1, 2020, for any period up to and until sixty (60) days after the end of the state of emergency. The LLA may issue extensions automatically to all licensees, or may do so on request from individual licensees.

The LLA may modify any prior approvals as the LLA deems proper and appropriate, including addressing snow removal, pedestrian traffic, and other similar concerns.

Any licensee that was previously granted approval but is not granted an extension by the LLA may still operate outdoor table service until November 1, 2020.

ABCC approval is not required on these extensions. Upon approval from the LLA the LLA may issue the amended license forthwith. The LLA must provide notice by mail to the ABCC on all application approvals. For further guidance on the process of approving and issuing these amended licenses LLAs should consult with their counsel.

Please be aware that all expanded premises approved pursuant to this Order are only effective through sixty (60) days after the end of the state of emergency and revert to their original licensed premises on that date.

The ABCC continues to retain supervision and oversight of all alcohol licensees, including those that expand their licensed premises pursuant to this Order. As always, all licensees must ensure that they comply with the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and that sales of alcoholic beverages take place only as authorized by federal, state, and local law. All questions should be
directed to Executive Director Ralph Sacramone at (617) 727-3040 x 731.

To view the original advisory, please click here

August 10, 2020

On August 7, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker updated guidelines for Phase III, Step 1, of reopening the Commonwealth in light of COVID-19. The text of the updated protocols for on-premises consumption licensees may be found HERE (Safety Standards and Checklist: Restaurants) and the text of the order regarding gatherings may be found HERE (Revised Gatherings Order).

Licensees are reminded that until Phase IV commences all licensees licensed for the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption must provide seated food service with the sale of alcohol. The food must be prepared on-site and under a retail food permit issued by a local licensing authority pursuant to 105 CMR 590.00.

Beginning tomorrow, August 11, 2020, for each customer, an item of prepared food must be ordered at the same time as an initial alcoholic beverage(s) order. One or more shareable food item(s) may be ordered as long as it/they would sufficiently serve the number of people at the table. Items such as potato chips, pretzels, and other pre-packaged or manufactured foods do not constitute food “prepared on-site.”

Also effective tomorrow, any licensees holding private functions on their premises must limit attendance to 25 people for indoor events and 50 people for outdoor events. Food must also be served as described in the preceding paragraph.

As always, all licensees must ensure that they comply with the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and that sales of alcoholic beverages take place only as authorized by federal, state, and local law. All questions should be directed to the ABCC Executive Director Ralph Sacramone at rsacramone@tre.state.ma.us or (617) 727-3040 x 731.

July 20, 2020

On July 20, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill authorizing on-premises licensees to sell mixed drinks for off-premises consumption for the duration of the Governor’s declared state of emergency or until February 28, 2021, whichever comes later.

Effective immediately and until the end of the state of emergency or February 28, 2021, whichever comes later, all on-premises licensees licensed for the sale of all alcoholic beverages or wine, malt, and cordials,2 may sell mixed drinks for off-premises consumption subject to the following conditions:

1. the mixed drink must be of the same distilled spirits proportions as if it was prepared for on-premises consumption;

2. the mixed drink shall be sold in a sealed container, meaning:

A. a packaged container with a secure lid or cap designed to prevent consumption without removal of the lid or cap;

B. if the packaged container has a lid with sipping holes or an opening for straws, the container shall be covered or affixed with an additional seal;

C. the lid, cap or seal shall be affixed in such a way as to prevent reopening without it being obvious that the lid, cap or seal was removed or broken; and

D. affixing the cap may be completed by the use of tape or other sticking adhesive before sale;

3. each customer shall be limited to not more than 64 fluid ounces of mixed drinks per transaction;

4. if the mixed drink is to be transported by a motor vehicle, either by delivery or pick-up, the driver of the motor vehicle shall transport the mixed drink in the trunk of the motor vehicle or in some other area that is not considered the passenger area as defined in section 24I of chapter 90 of the General Laws.

The sale of mixed drinks may only be done from opening until 12:00 am midnight, or the licensee’s closing time previously approved by the Local Licensing Authority, whichever is earlier. All licensees must verify that both the purchaser and recipient of alcohol are at least 21 years old.

Sales must be made as part of a takeout order by way of pickup, including curbside pickup, and delivery. Licensees do not need to obtain a separate transportation permit under M.G.L. c. 138, § 22, in order to make deliveries. Licensees are advised to check with their Local Licensing Authority on any additional requirements in order to sell alcohol for curbside pickup.

All sales must be accompanied by a receipt reflecting the purchase of food along with alcohol, and licensees must keep copies of all receipts for inspection by licensing authorities.

This Advisory should be read in conjunction with the April 3, 2020, Advisory Regarding On-Premises Licensees Selling for Off-Premises Consumption, which can be found HERE.

As always, all licensees must ensure that they comply with the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and that sales of alcoholic beverages take place only as authorized by federal, state, and local law. All questions should be directed to the ABCC Executive Director Ralph Sacramone at rsacramone@tre.state.ma.us or (617) 727-3040 x 731.

To view the original order, please click here

June 19, 2020

On June 19, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker approved the reopening of all licensees for on-premises consumption of food and alcohol beginning Monday, June 22, 2020, as part of Phase II of the Governor’s reopening of the Commonwealth.

On Monday, June 22, 2020, all licensees for on-premises consumption of alcohol may commence indoor table service so long as they comply with the Governor’s Safety Standards and Checklist for Restaurants, which can be found HERE.

As always, all licensees must ensure that they comply with the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and that sales of alcoholic beverages take place only as authorized by federal, state, and local law. All questions should be directed to Executive Director Ralph Sacramone at (617) 727-3040 x 731.

To view the original advisory, please click here

June 01, 2020

On June 1, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker issued an Order Clarifying the Progression of the Commonwealth’s Phased Workplace Re-Opening Plan and Authorizing Certain Re-Opening Preparations at Phase II Workplaces, which, in part, details the process for reopening establishments for on-premises consumption. The text of the Governor’s Order can be found HERE.

When the Governor declares that the Commonwealth has entered Phase II of its reopening plan all licensees for on-premises consumption of alcohol may commence outdoor table service only. Indoor service will remain prohibited until further order from the Governor.

The Governor’s Order also grants the local licensing authorities (“LLA”) the authority to expand alcohol licensees’ licensed premises for outdoor seating in an expedited process.

Pursuant to the Governor’s Order, on application from a licensee that serves alcohol for on-premises consumption*, the LLA may alter the description of the licensee’s licensed premises to expand for outdoor seating that the LLA deems “reasonable and proper.” The LLA does not need to comply with M.G.L. c. 138, § 15A, and therefore does not need to provide advance notice to abutters or hold a public hearing on the application. LLAs must continue to follow the ABCC’s guidelines issued in 2015 for the approval of outdoor seating, which can be found HERE.

ABCC approval is not required on these applications. Upon approval from the LLA the LLA may issue the amended license forthwith. The LLA must provide notice by mail to the ABCC on all application approvals. For further guidance on the process of approving and issuing these amended licenses LLAs should consult with their counsel.

Please be aware that all expanded premises approved pursuant to this Order are only effective through November 1, 2020, or until the Order is rescinded, whichever is sooner, and revert to their original licensed premises on that date.

The ABCC continues to retain supervision and oversight of all alcohol licensees, including those that expand their licensed premises pursuant to this Order. As always, all licensees must ensure that they comply with the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and that sales of alcoholic beverages take place only as authorized by federal, state, and local law. All questions should be directed to Executive Director Ralph Sacramone at (617) 727-3040 x 731.

* This includes restaurants, bars, hotels, general-on-premises, clubs, war veterans’ clubs, continuing care retirement communities, pub-brewers (M.G.L. c. 138, §§ 12 and 19D), farmer-series pouring permits, and manufacturers’ pouring permits (M.G.L. c. 138, §§ 19(b), 19B(n), 19C(n), and 19E(o)).

To view the original order, please click here

May 18, 2020

On May 18, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker issued a plan, Reopening Massachusetts, which provides a four-phase reopening of businesses in the Commonwealth including retail alcohol licensees for on-premises consumption. The text of the Governor’s Plan can be found HERE.

Please be advised that all on-premises consumption licensees remain prohibited from selling alcohol for on-premises consumption to the public until June 8, 2020 at the earliest, awaiting further notice by the Governor. This includes restaurants, bars, hotels, general-on-premises, clubs, war veterans’ clubs, continuing care retirement communities, pub-brewers (M.G.L. c. 138, §§ 12 and 19D), farmer-series pouring permits, and manufacturer’s pouring permits (M.G.L. c. 138, §§ 19(b), 19B(n), 19C(n), and 19E(o)). These establishments are also prohibited from serving any food or drinks for on-premises consumption; only takeout and delivery are permitted. Please refer to the ABCC’s April 3, 2020, Advisory for how § 12 licensees may sell wine and malt beverages for off-premises consumption during the state of emergency, which can be found HERE.

Please note that this Advisory does not apply to licenses for off-premises consumption, including grocery stores, pharmacies, package stores, direct wine shippers, and farmer-series licensees (M.G.L. c. 138, §§ 15, 19B(g)(2), 19C(g)(7), 19E(g)(7), and 19F).

As always, all licensees must ensure that they comply with the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and that sales of alcoholic beverages take place only as authorized by federal, state, and local law. All questions should be directed to the ABCC at (617) 727-3040.

To view the original order, please click here.

May 16, 2020

In light of the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission ("Commission") recognizes the ongoing hardship posed to the § 12 licensees to comply with the 60-day credit terms on invoices as outlined in M.G.L. c. 138, § 25.

Therefore, the Commission orders that the credit terms for all invoices issued between January 18, 2020 and April 15, 2020 to § 12 licensees are extended by 74 days to a total of 134 days for the payment of those invoices.  This extension does not apply to any other license type or to § 12 licensees already listed on the credit delinquency list as of the date of this order.  Please be aware that this Order supersedes and replaces the Commission's April 16, 2020, Updated Order Regarding Delinquency Report Period (Credit Terms).

All of the following must be met to qualify for this extension of credit terms from 60 to 134 days:

  1. the licensee must be a § 12 licensee;
  2. the § 12 licensee must not be listed on the credit delinquency list as of the date of issuance of this order; and
  3. the invoices that are subject to the credit extension must be issued between January 18, 2020 and April 15, 2020.

Any invoices received after April 15, 2020 remain subject to the 60-day delinquency reporting period as provided for in M.G.L. c. 138, 25. 

Licensees who meet the above criteria do not need to apply to the Commission for this extension of credit terms as these terms apply automatically.  Licensees who do not meet the criteria are reminded that they may still apply to the Commission for relief pursuant to M.G.L. c. 138 § 25, in the ordinary course.

This order shall remain in effect until rescinded by the Commission.

To view the original order, please click here

May 01, 2020

On April 28, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker issued an Order Extending the Closing of Certain Workplaces and the Prohibition of Gatherings of More than 10 People, which, in part, continues the ban on all on-premises consumption of food and drink in Massachusetts until May 18, 2020, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The text of the Governor’s Order can be found here.

Please be advised that all on-premises consumption licensees remain prohibited from selling alcohol for on-premises consumption to the public until May 18, 2020. This includes restaurants, bars, hotels, general-on-premises, clubs, war veterans’ clubs, continuing care retirement communities, pub-brewers (M.G.L. c. 138, §§ 12 and 19D), farmer-series pouring permits, and manufacturer’s pouring permits (M.G.L. c. 138, §§ 19(b), 19B(n), 19C(n), and 19E(o)). These establishments are also prohibited from serving any food or drinks for on-premises consumption; only takeout and delivery are permitted. Please refer to the ABCC’s April 3, 2020, Advisory for how § 12 licensees may sell wine and malt beverages for off-premises consumption during the state of emergency, which can be found here.

Please note that this Advisory does not apply to licenses for off-premises consumption, including grocery stores, pharmacies, package stores, direct wine shippers, and farmer-series licensees (M.G.L. c. 138, §§ 15, 19B(g)(2), 19C(g)(7), 19E(g)(7), and 19F).

As always, all licensees must ensure that they comply with the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and that sales of alcoholic beverages take place only as authorized by federal, state, and local law. All questions should be directed to the ABCC at (617) 727-3040.

To view the original order, please click here

April 08, 2020

On March 31, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker issued an Order Extending the Closing of Certain Workplaces and the Prohibition of Gatherings of More than 10 People, which, in part, continues the ban on all on-premises consumption of food and drink in Massachusetts until May 4, 2020, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The text of the Governor’s Order can be found here.

Please be advised that all on-premises consumption licensees remain prohibited from selling alcohol for on-premises consumption to the public until May 4, 2020. This includes restaurants, bars, hotels, general-on-premises, clubs, war veterans’ clubs, continuing care retirement communities, pub-brewers (M.G.L. c. 138, §§ 12 and 19D), farmer-series pouring permits, and manufacturer’s pouring permits (M.G.L. c. 138, §§ 19(b), 19B(n), 19C(n), and 19E(o)). These establishments are also prohibited from serving any food or drinks for on-premises consumption; only takeout and delivery are permitted. Please refer to the ABCC’s April 3, 2020, Advisory for how § 12 licensees may sell wine and malt beverages for off-premises consumption during the state of emergency, which can be found here.

Please note that this Advisory does not apply to licenses for off-premises consumption, including grocery stores, pharmacies, package stores, direct wine shippers, and farmer-series licensees (M.G.L. c. 138, §§ 15, 19B(g)(2), 19C(g)(7), 19E(g)(7), and 19F).

As always, all licensees must ensure that they comply with the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and that sales of alcoholic beverages take place only as authorized by federal, state, and local law. All questions should be directed to the ABCC at (617) 727-3040.

To view the original advisory, please click here

April 03, 2020

Today, April 3, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill authorizing on-premises licensees to sell malt beverages and wine for off-premises consumption for the duration of the Governor’s declared state of emergency, issued March 10, 2020.

Effective immediately and until the end of the state of emergency, all on-premises licensees (M.G.L. c. 138, § 12 bars, restaurants, general on premises, hotels, taverns, clubs, war veterans’ clubs, and continuing care retirement communities) may sell up to 192 ounces of malt beverages and 1.5 liters of wine for off-premises consumption only as part of a transaction for the purchase of food.

The sale of malt beverages and wine by § 12 licensees may only be done from opening until 12:00 am midnight, or the licensee’s closing time previously approved by the Local Licensing Authority, whichever is earlier. All wine must be in its original sealed container and all malt beverages must be in sealed containers. All licensees must verify that both the purchaser and recipient of alcohol are at least 21 years old.

Sales must be made as part of a takeout order by way of pickup, including curbside pickup, or delivery. Licensees do not need to obtain a separate transportation permit under M.G.L. c. 138, § 22, in order to make deliveries. Licensees are advised to check with their Local Licensing Authority on any additional requirements in order to sell alcohol for curbside pickup.

All sales must be accompanied by a receipt reflecting the purchase of food along with alcohol, and licensees must keep copies of all receipts for inspection by licensing authorities.

As always, all licensees must ensure that they comply with the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and that sales of alcoholic beverages take place only as authorized by federal, state, and local law. All questions should be directed to the ABCC Executive Director Ralph Sacramone at rsacramone@tre.state.ma.us or (617) 727-3040 x 731.

To view the original advisory, please click here

March 15, 2020

On Sunday, March 15, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker issued an Order Prohibiting the Gathering of More Than 25 People and On-Premises Consumption of Food or Drink, barring all on-premises consumption of food and drink in Massachusetts in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Effective beginning at 12:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, all on-premises consumption licensees are prohibited from selling alcohol to the public until 11:59 p.m. on April 5, 2020. This includes restaurants, bars, hotels, general-on-premises, clubs, war veterans' clubs, continuing care retirement communities, pub-brewers (M.G.L. c. 138, §§ 12 and 19D), farmer-series pouring permits, and manufacturer's pouring permits (M.G.L. c. 138, §§ 19(b), 19B(n), 19C(n), and 19E(o)). These establishments are also prohibited from serving any food or drinks for on-premises consumption; only takeout and delivery of food is permitted.

Please note that this Advisory does not apply to licenses for off-premises consumption, including grocery stores, pharmacies, package stores, direct wine shippers, and farmer-series licensees (M.G.L. c. 138, §§ 15, 19B(g)(2), 19C(g)(7), 19E(g)(7), and 19F).

As always, all licensees must ensure that they comply with the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and that sales of alcoholic beverages take place only as authorized by federal, state, and local law. All questions should be directed to Ralph Sacramone, RSacramone@tre.state.ma.us, 617-727-3040 ext 731.

To view the original advisory, please click here

To view the Asian version, please click here