Monday, April 15, 2024

New ABC-Related Laws to Go Into Effect July 1

The ABC Store in Williamsburg. (WYDaily/Courtesy of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control)

STATEWIDE — Several new laws go into effect on July 1, 2021, including seven that are related to Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority (ABC), its licensees as well as applicants for licenses through the authority.

On Wednesday, June 30, 2021, the State of Emergency in the Commonwealth (Executive Order 51), which was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, will come to an end. As a result of its ending, sixteen regulatory actions through the ABC will come to an end.

These laws include:

Extension of “Cocktails To Go” — Two bills that were conceived during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, both House Bill (HB) 1879 and Senate Bill (SB) 1299 allowed restaurants to sell cocktails to go. ABC is currently conducting a study at the request of Virginia’s General Assembly on how cocktails to go as it relates to public safety.

Virtual Fundraising Events — HB1973 allows for nonprofit associations or corporations that are conducting virtual fundraisers the privilege of license during said events, including the sale and shipment of wine in closed containers.

Locality Notification for Pending ABC Licenses — HB2131 requires that ABC notify the chief administrator of a locality of a pending license. There are other provisions in this bill as to what constitutes “blight” in regards to activities in relation to ABC-licensed local establishments.

Special Events Licenses — The bills related to this, HB2266 and SB1471, will rename the licenses currently known as “special events licenses” to “designated outdoor refreshment area.” This will allow for localities to work with ABC in order to create consumption areas in places where there is entertainment or walking districts. Licensees will be allowed to sell alcohol so that patrons can consume these beverages outside of the licensed established as long as they remain in the designated outdoor area. This outdoor area can be as much as several blocks.

Low Alcohol Beverages in ABC Retail Stores — While not going into effect until January 1, 2022, this new law, SB1428, ABC stores will no longer sell low alcoholic beverages, spirit-based drinks consisting of 7.5% or less alcohol volume, unless they are manufactured by a Virginia distillery.

Enforcing Unlawful Games of Skill — HB2168 and SB1465 allows for local county or city attorney or the Commonwealth’s Attorney, as well as Attorney General, to enforce against unlawful games of skill. This would include unregulated gambling establishments.

ABC’s Bureau of Law Enforcement has provided updated guidance regarding procedural and regulatory matters, which will aid businesses in the July 1 transition. If licensees have any question, ABC encourages them to contact their ABC special agent director or to email with any questions.

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