Seven laws related to Virginia ABC to take effect on Thursday

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — Among the many new laws taking effect in Virginia on Thursday, seven of those laws will impact the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC), its licensees, and applicants for ABC licenses.

During the 2021 session, officials say the Virginia General Assembly passed the following Virginia ABC-related legislative proposals and then Gov. Ralph Northam signed them into law:

  • Cocktails to go extension (HB1879 and SB1299) – Both bills allow restaurants to continue to sell cocktails to go for another year. At the request of the General Assembly, the ABC is conducting a study of takeout cocktails among more than 40 participating stakeholders to identify any public safety concerns.
  • ABC license reform and off-premises beer/wine (HB1845) – This bill not only extends the effective date of Virginia ABC’s major license reform legislation to Jan. 1, 2022, but it also allows licensed businesses to sell wine or beer for people to drink off-site and to deliver wine or beer without a delivery permit.
  • Virtual fundraising events (HB1973) – This bill allows nonprofits with alcohol licenses to sell and ship wine in closed containers as part of virtual fundraising events.
  • Locality notification for pending ABC licenses (HB2131) – This bill requires ABC to notify the local chief administrative officer of a pending ABC license in their locality. The bill also amends certain provisions for the definition of “criminal blight” in connection with local activities at ABC-licensed establishments for which the locality may require a property owner to take corrective action.
  • Special event licenses (HB2266 and SB1471) – Both bills authorize the ABC — after the adoption of a local ordinance — to increase the frequency and duration of special event licenses, which will be renamed as “designated outdoor refreshment area” licenses. The legislation will allow localities to work with the ABC to create consumption areas in “entertainment or walking districts.” ABC licensees in the designated districts will be able to sell alcohol to patrons, who can consume the beverages outside the licensed establishment so long as they remain in the designated outdoor area.
  • Low alcohol beverages in ABC retail stores (SB1428) – Starting Jan. 1, 2022, ABC will stop selling low alcohol beverages — which contain less than or equal to 7.5 percent alcohol by volume — in its retail stores unless they were manufactured by a Virginia distiller. Therefore, ABC retail stores will market Virginia-based low alcohol beverages, as well as products over 7.5% alcohol by volume.
  • Enforcing unlawful games of skill (HB2168 and SB1465) – This bill says a local county or city attorney, a commonwealth’s attorney, and the attorney general can enforce against unlawful games of skill. In other words, games of skill will be unlawful in Virginia as of Thursday, July 1.

On Wednesday, June 30, Virginia’s pandemic-related state of emergency (Executive Order 51)will come to an end, resulting in changes to many of the 16 ABC regulatory actions that were taken in 2020 to help businesses impacted by the pandemic.

In order to help businesses with the transition, Virginia ABC’s Bureau of Law Enforcement has provided updated guidance regarding procedural and regulatory matters.

If licensees have any questions, they are encouraged to contact their ABC special agent directly or email enforcement@virginiaabc.com.

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