State and local agencies are working to ensure you can still support your favorite bars and restaurants during this crisis.

Lauren Wicks
March 19, 2020
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The COVID-19 pandemic is tough for everyone in America, but especially those working at restaurants or bars. Many of our favorite local establishments are having to shutter their doors indefinitely—and are worried they may have to remain closed after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Dozens of states are working to keep restaurants, taverns and bars in business by allowing curbside pickup and delivery—as long as the establishment is acting in accordance with CDC and federal guidelines. Many state and local alcohol beverage authorities are now allowing alcoholic beverages to be included in restaurant delivery and curbside pickup for the duration of this national emergency.

"Earlier this week Mayor Bowser (Washington D.C.'s mayor) issued a mayor's order prohibiting mass gatherings and that is defined as 50 or more persons," says Jared Powell, public information officer for Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). "That shutters restaurants and taverns, limiting them to takeout and carryout. We want to make sure individuals are still patronizing these establishments that choose to stay open—and keep them in business."

Powell says ABRA is allowing restaurants and taverns in Washington, D.C. to register with them and provide beer, wine and spirits in closed containers as a carryout or delivery option alongside a food order. Since ABC laws are still being enforced, Powell says ABRA is continuously updating its list of FAQs to answer questions about specific products, containers and whether or not third-party delivery is allowed.

Some states are also following a similar emergency policy, but many are only allowing beer and wine to be sold. Alcohol beverage authorities from Alabama, Kansas and Maine told us they are choosing to allow restaurants to offer curbside beer and wine pickup—as long as they are sold unopened in their original bottles.

Other states, like Texas, are allowing for beer, wine, spirits and mixed drinks to be sold alongside a food purchase, while an ABC representative from Delaware told us alcoholic beverages may be sold at any restaurant, brewpub, taproom or tavern with an on-premise license—as long as alcohol sales don't exceed 40% of the establishment's total transaction.

Some states, like Massachusetts, aren't as readily able to amend alcoholic beverage laws temporarily, as this must be a legislative change. It's important to support your favorite local restaurant or watering hole if your state offers temporary emergency allowances, but purchasing gift cards to use when they reopen is a great way to provide support if state laws don't allow for curbside or delivery service at this time. Check out your state's alcohol beverage authority to find out how to legally support local bars and restaurants. Don't forget to leave a generous tip if you are able.