ABRA's Last Call Newsletter: July/August 2020 Edition

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Last Call Newsletter

JUL/AUG 2020

Modification of services

While the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration's (ABRA) physical office is currently closed to the public, ABRA continues to remain open and operational, and committed to the continuity of our mission and service to the public.

Our customer service hours are Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Our enforcement team remains on duty 24/7, and is actively responding to complaints called into our hotline ((202) 329-6347) and submitted online and by email.

To ensure the health and safety of our customers and team, we have modified the delivery of select services and deadlines, such as adapting our in-person trainings for online learning and extending the public comment period from 45 to 66 days. Updates are available online.

Additionally, under current law, a licensee that ceases operations or closes its premises for 21 or more days is required to place their ABC license in safekeeping. The tolling of the 21-day period has been suspended until the public health emergency has ended.

To stay up-to-date with coronavirus (COVID-19) related information, along with select Mayor’s Orders and Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board emergency rulemakings relevant to the industry, visit ABRA’s COVID-19 online resources.

For more additional information about COVID-19 and the District’s response, visit coronavirus.dc.gov.

Compliance Check

To encourage compliance with Mayor’s Orders and ABC Board emergency rulemakings specific to Phase Two—and work to minimize the spread of COVID-19, ABRA investigators are increasing inspections of ABC-licensed establishments across the District.

Additionally, ABRA investigators have the discretion to issue citations to licensees onsite for select violations, including after-hours operations, employees not wearing face coverings or masks, live entertainment, and failure to maintain required minimum table and seat spacing.

All other observed violations will be reported to and adjudicated by the ABC Board in accordance with DC law. 

The full schedule of Phase Two citations and a report detailing citations issued to date is available online.

COVID-19 Phase 2 Guidance

On June 22, 2020, DC entered Phase Two of reopening. Phase Two expands upon Phase One allowances and permits ABC-licensed establishments to begin offering limited indoor dining between 8:00 a.m.-12:00 a.m., daily. 

Key provisions such as capacities, service hours, reservations, food and drink, music and entertainment, and face coverings or masks are detailed on ABRA's website, along with the slide deck from our June Phase Two Guidance for ABC Licensees information sessions.

Additionally, ABRA has developed three temporary programs to assist licensees in re-opening for business and safely serve customers. They include:

  • New and Expanded Outdoor Dining Seating Allows licensees to sell and serve alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption in newly created and expanded outdoor dining space on public and private property. Approved new and expanded outdoor seating may be used through October 25, 2020. 
  • Carry-out and Delivery from Licensed Location Allows licensees to sell beer, wine, and spirits for carry-out and delivery with at least one (1) prepared food item from their licensed premises.  
  • Carry-Out and Delivery from a Pop-Up Location Allows licensees to sell beer, wine, and spirits for carry-out, delivery, and onsite consumption from up to two (2) locations in DC other than their licensed premises.

There is no cost to participate in any of the programs. Registration requirements vary.

Class B Renewals (2)

The Class B alcohol license renewal period is currently underway and ends September 30—the date all Class B licenses expire.

Items to note:

  • Mail Date | Renewal packets will be mailed to licensees on or before Wednesday, August 12. If you do not receive your packet by late August, contact our licensing division ASAP.
  • Submission | You may submit your renewal packet by email or postal mail, or place it in our secure drop box located outside our office lobby. No renewal materials or payment will be accepted in-person.
  • Signatures | You may use a physical signature or an electronic signature on documents that require a signature.
  • Self-Certification | You may now self-certify your application. Leave blank any lines reserved for a notary public.
  • Payment | In addition to accepting payment by check, ABRA will now process credit card payments over the phone. Instructions for doing so will be detailed in the letter enclosed in the renewal packet.

Additional instructions will be included in the renewal packet for licensees interested in amending or terminating their Settlement Agreement, requesting a Substantial Change, or cancelling their license. Additional renewal period resources are available online

To verify mailing address information on file, report renewal materials not being received, or to ask general licensing questions, please call (202) 442-4423 or email abc@dc.gov.

New Alcohol Laws

On July 28, the DC Council passed Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Support Act of 2020 at the second reading. Included are seven (7) provisions that will benefit licensees and customers, and expand ABRA’s portfolio. They are:

  • Transfer administration of the medical cannabis program from DC Health to ABRA.
  • Permanently allow registered On-Premises Retailers to sell alcohol for carry-out and delivery with prepared food between 6:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m.
  • Change the beginning hours of sale for On-Premises Retailers and Manufacturers from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.
  • Increase the hours of sale and delivery for Off-Premises Retailers from the current 7:00 a.m. to midnight to 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.
  • Expand Inaugural Week from a seven (7)-day to a sixteen (16)-day period.
  • Increase the Extended Holiday Hour Program by six (6) days.
  • Implement Permanent Games of Skill legislation designating the Office of Lottery and Gaming as the main regulator of the electronic devices and requiring alcohol establishments secure an ABRA-issued games of skill endorsement. 

All provisions are proposed to become effective at the start of Fiscal Year 2021 on October 1, 2020.

Langdon Park

On July 15, at the request of ANC 5B, the ABC Board adopted the Langdon Park Moratorium Notice of Emergency Rulemaking, by a vote of 7-0.

The emergency rulemaking extends the existing moratorium, which was scheduled to expire on July 27, 2020, for an additional 120 days in order to allow the ABC Board to solicit comments from the public concerning the future of the Langdon Park Moratorium. In accordance with D.C. Official Code § 25-351, the ABC Board will schedule a public hearing.

Under the current moratorium, the number of nightclub licenses and multipurpose facility licenses (CX/DX) is capped at three (3), and no new entertainment endorsements may be issued to restaurant or tavern license holders that sell wine, beer, and spirits within the designated boundaries. Hotel licenses are exempted.

Currently, DC has four moratoriums in effect. They are the Adams Morgan Moratorium Zone, Glover Park Moratorium Zone, Langdon Park Moratorium Zone, and West Dupont Circle Moratorium Zone.

Virtual Trainings

ABRA is committed to developing and hosting year round continuing education opportunities for new and seasoned entrepreneurs and their staff, and DC residents.

Upcoming opportunities include:

Reimagining Outdoor Space
Explores how alcohol establishments may add and/or expand their outdoor seating in public and private space during Phase Two—and what outdoor space is available to licensees under normal conditions.

  • Tuesday, August 10 | 10:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m.

ID Compliance
Foundation course focused on preventing the sale of alcohol to minors and intoxicated persons.  Focus areas include applicable ABC laws and regulations, compliance checks, best practices, and tips for how to verify photo IDs.

  • Tuesday, August 11 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. OR 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 10 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. OR 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, September 29 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. OR 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

ABC 101 (formerly New Licensee)
Foundation course designed to introduce prospective and new ABC license holders—specifically on-premises and off-premises retailers and manufacturers—to ABRA and key ABC basics. Established licensees are encouraged to attend to become reacquainted with changes in the alcohol laws and new opportunities.

  • Tuesday, August 18 | 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
  • Tuesday, September 22 | 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Books and Records for Hotels and Records
Foundation course geared to help hotel and restaurant license holders confidently complete and submit accurate and on-time quarterly statements as required by DC law, and to better understand the audit process and penalty schedule for non-compliance. 

  • Monday, September 28 | 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

All trainings are hosted virtually and offered at no cost. Advance registration is required.

Board Members Appointed

On July 28, the DC Council unanimously voted to reappoint James Short Jr. and Rema Wahabzadah to the ABC Board.

James Short, Jr. (Ward 7), a DC Deputy Fire Chief and graduate of the George Washington University’s Certified Public Manager Program, joined the ABC Board in 2014.

Rema Wahabzadah (Ward 6), an accomplished attorney specializing in government relations and regulatory compliance, has served on the ABC Board since 2018.

Twice nominated by Mayor Bowser, both Board Members Short and Wahabzadah will serve four-year terms ending on May 7, 2024. A representative of the Mayor’s Office of Talent and Appointments will virtually swear in both members at an upcoming ABC Board hearing to officially mark the start of their new terms.

Donovan W. Anderson (Ward 7), Bobby Cato, Jr. (Ward 5), Rafi Aliya Crockett (Ward 5), Jeni Hansen (Ward 2), and Edward S. Grandis (Ward 2) complete the ABC Board seven-member panel.

ABC Board hearings are open to the public and held regularly on Wednesdays. The ABC Board’s weekly calendar and agenda notices can be viewed at abra.dc.gov.