California adopts three relief measures for restaurants | Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP

On October 8, 2021, Governor Newsom approved three restaurant relief measures. These measures will affect outdoor dining and the ABC licensing process. All three measures received bipartisan support and were backed by restaurant advocacy groups.

AB 61: Business relief in the event of a pandemic

AB 61 authorizes the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“ABC”) to permit restaurants to serve alcohol within an extended license area. The bill would also allow the CBA to extend the validity period of the COVID-19 permit beyond 365 days if the license holder requested a permanent expansion of its premises. The bill would make these provisions effective until July 1, 2024. AB 61 includes an emergency clause, which means that it comes into force immediately.

The law was designed to provide restaurants with regulatory flexibility on a number of key issues, including allowing more outdoor food preparation and serving, allowing restaurants to make better use of their own spaces to increase the capacity of outdoor catering and by extending existing ABC orders authorizing the service of alcohol on outdoor premises. Our previous conversation with Bill’s sponsor Jesse Gabriel, Assembly Member on the importance of AB 61 is available here.

SB 314: Law on the recovery of bars and restaurants

SB 314 passed both the Assembly (76-0) and the Senate (37-0) with unanimous and bipartisan votes. The law will give businesses with temporarily expanded premises a one-year grace period to request a permanent extension. The law also creates open container zones and streamlines the process for bars and restaurants to acquire an alcohol license from Alcoholic Beverage Control.

SB 389: Alcoholic beverages: retail license; non-sale privileges

SB 389 allows restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages to consumers with their take-out orders. Its expiration date is December 31, 2026. Alcoholic beverages must be in single-serve containers, must be sold with a bona fide meal, and are limited to two drinks per meal. Customers must order and collect their own alcoholic beverages.

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