Relaxed Alcohol Regulations Supporting the Restaurant Industry During COVID-19

Relaxed Alcohol Regulations Supporting the Restaurant Industry During COVID-19
21 Mar 2020

On Friday, March 20, 2020, Governor Jared Polis, acting under emergency powers, issued an executive order that temporarily suspends certain alcohol beverage statutes, allowing on-premises restaurants, bars, and breweries and others to sell, deliver, and provide alcohol for takeout to customers who are over the age of 21 and who also purchase food. The Governor’s order is in effect from March 20, 2020 – April 18, 2020.

Normally, under state alcohol laws, restaurants can only allow customers to “cork and carry” one open bottle of wine for off-premises consumption. This exemption only applies to wine – customers cannot leave the premises with beer or spirits/cocktails. Separately, off-premises alcohol delivery is only allowed by retail liquor stores.

Pursuant to the Governor’s order, and corresponding guidance issued by the Colorado Liquor Enforcement Division, a wide range of Colorado food and beverage operators may now temporarily deliver and sell takeout beer, wine and spirits. Spirits include cocktails and mixed drinks. All alcohol beverages must be in sealed containers — which may include plastic cups with sealed lids.

Businesses with one of the following on-premises liquor licenses may participate: Beer and Wine, Brew Pubs, Club Licenses, Distillery Pubs, Hotel & Restaurant, Lodging and Entertainment, Tavern, or Vintners Restaurant. Further, breweries, distilleries and others have additional options for takeout sales.

Colorado food and beverage operators who sell alcohol for carry-out and delivery must abide by key rules:

  • All alcohol sales must also include food sales to the customer (both shown on the same receipt or transaction)
  • Businesses may receive takeout or delivery orders via online, in-person, telephone, or third-party vendor
  • Businesses must obtain any delivery customer’s name, date of birth, and delivery address
  • Deliveries may only be made to the customer’s address provided at the time of order
  • Delivery personnel must be (a) over the age of 21 and (b) an employee of the liquor-licensed business
  • Delivery personnel must verify that any customer receiving an alcohol order is over the age of 21

Ireland Stapleton attorneys Sean Jennings and Tom Downey were honored to work with Colorado restaurant and hospitality industry members on this regulatory aid for the local economy during the COVID-19 crisis.

What is written here is intended as general information and is not to be construed as legal advice. If legal advice is needed, you should consult an attorney.

Tom DowneySean JenningsSean Jennings is a regulatory law attorney at Ireland Stapleton. He represents regulated businesses in regulatory, government relations, and corporate matters, including licensing, permitting, zoning, compliance, government enforcement actions and investigations. Mr. Jennings works with clients in diverse industries such as alcohol beverages, cannabis, hemp/CBD, transportation, gaming, energy, public utilities, and short-term rentals. He can be reached at jjennings@irelandstapleton.com or 303-628-3636.

Tom Downey is a regulatory law attorney at Ireland Stapleton. With his significant experience as both a government official and private attorney, Mr. Downey helps his clients navigate all aspects of regulatory law. The majority of his practice consists of advising and representing corporate clients in the administrative, transactional and disciplinary processes related to liquor licensing, legalized marijuana and licenses governed by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. He can be reached at tdowney@irelandstapleton.com or 303-628-3639.