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March 23, 2020

COVID-19: NYS Liquor Authority Allows Limited Sale, Delivery of Alcoholic Beverages

On March 17, the NYS Liquor Authority published guidance in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 202.3, which applies to on-premises licenses and licensed manufacturers with on-premises privileges.

First, these types of licensees are temporarily prohibited from selling food and alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption. In its newly released document, the NYS Liquor Authority provides guidance regarding temporary off-premises privileges afforded to these types of licensees under the executive order.

Executive Order No 202.3 became effective March 16 at 8:00 p.m. At that time, licensees with on-premises privileges—including restaurants, bars, taverns, clubs, arenas, and catering establishments—were required to cease on-premises sales of food and alcoholic beverages. By its terms, the order expires on April 15, but may be extended or reduced depending upon the changing circumstances surrounding COVID-19.

The NYS Liquor Authority’s guidelines also states that on-premises licensees are authorized to sell alcohol for off-premises consumption, subject to any reasonable limitation imposed by the NYS Liquor Authority.

The guidance issued by the NYS Liquor Authority sets forth these limitations:

  • Any on-premises licensee and any manufacturing licensee with on-premises retail privileges may sell any alcoholic beverages that it is normally able to sell for on-premises consumption under the law for off-premises consumption.
  • Alcoholic beverages sold for off-premises consumption may be sold in any closed and sealed original container of any size. However, the sale of each container must be accompanied by the purchase of food, and all sales should be consistent with applicable municipal open container ordinances.
  • Alcoholic beverages sold for off-premises consumption may be sold for takeout from the licensed premises or may be delivered to the customer’s residence. Any deliveries must be made in a vehicle permitted by the NYS Liquor Authority (e.g., a third-party delivery service) or a vehicle owned and operated or hired and operated by the licensee or its employees. A copy of the permit or license must be present in the vehicle.
  • Alcoholic beverages sold for off-premises consumption generally may be sold only during the hours permitted for the county where the licensee operates or, if different, as set forth in the licensee’s method of operation.

The NYS Liquor Authority also advised that any licensed business that violates the governor’s order will face a monetary penalty up to $10,000 for retailers and up to $100,000 for manufacturers as well as a potential suspension, cancellation, or revocation of its license.

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