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Inside SLA's new guidance on alcohol sales for breweries, restaurants & more

We've entered an era where alcohol can be purchased from restaurants and taprooms on a to-go or delivery basis.

The New York State Liquor Authority has finalized detailed instructions for its license holders in response to the closure of restaurants and taprooms across the state that became effective Monday night.

While the updated procedures lend greater opportunity to the restaurants/bars/breweries/wineries remaining open with takeout and delivery, there remain plenty of ways to violate the "guidance."

The following guidelines are valid through at least April 15, when the SLA will revisit the situation in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

• For restaurants and bars with a liquor license that permits them to sell alcohol on their premises, they are able to sell all alcohol off-premises, which includes both delivery to a residence and takeout.

Previously, restaurants, bars and taverns with a full on-premise liquor license could sell beer — in bottles, cans or growlers — for takeout and delivery; many did not know or did not take advantage of this rule, said a representative of the SLA.

What has changed, however, is these businesses may now sell wine and spirits, in addition to beer, through takeout and delivery. They may not sell varieties of alcohol off-premises for which they're not licensed, however.

For example, a restaurant/bar that's licensed to serve wine and beer may not begin selling liquor now. These types of businesses with full liquor licenses may sell mixed drinks for delivery or takeout, as long as they're in closed containers.

• For restaurants and bars specifically, the sale of alcohol, for both delivery and takeout, must be accompanied by the purchase of food.

Breweries with taprooms are permitted to sell beer, for takeout only, without having to include food in the sale. This is why 42 North's drive-thru endeavor meets the criteria.

Big Ditch Brewing Co. will offer takeout options for food and beer, and convert its taproom into a retail operation, at which cans of beer will be sold from a cooler.

Rules differ slightly for breweries without taprooms, but Buffalo has few of those.

Distilleries, wineries, cideries and meaderies holding an on-premises license (operate a taproom) may sell their products for takeout without having to include food, but if they choose to deliver, orders must include food.

• Delivery rules are a bit more specific: For those not using a third-party delivery service approved by the SLA, the delivery vehicle must be "owned and operated, or hired and operated by the liquor licensee or its employee. A copy of the permit or license must be present in the vehicle."

• Alcohol must be sold in the closed, original container for takeout and delivery, and customers must abide by open-container laws where applicable. East Aurora might benefit from its rare lack of an open-container law.

Note: Any on-premises sale, which was forbidden by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo after 8 p.m. Monday, is penalized by a maximum $10,000 fine.

Here's a helpful video produced by SLA Solutions, which operates out of Hamburg:

WE FINALLY HAVE THE GUIDELINES!

Posted by SLA Solutions on Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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