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Virginia ABC > COVID-19

COVID-19

A Message to Our Customers and Industry Partners

June 24, 2020

For the past 13 weeks, Virginia ABC closely monitored the very fluid situation that is the COVID-19 pandemic. With all of Virginia now in Phase 2 of the reopening plan, and new cases continuing to trend downward, it is time for ABC to move forward in reopening in turn, while maintaining safety measures that have proven to benefit customers and employees.

As of June 15, all stores that were operating under a counter service model (where employees get your products for you) reverted to usual shopping mode, and customers are able to browse the aisles again. Beginning Friday, June 26, store hours will be adjusted. Although a uniform opening time of 12 noon will remain the same for all stores, individual store closing times will revert to normal, pre-pandemic closing times. You can check your local store’s adjusted hours by visiting our store finder page.

This does not mean we are taking our foot off the gas when it comes to safety. In Virginia, you are still required to wear a mask or face covering when inside brick and mortar businesses, including our stores. We ask that you continue to practice social distancing inside our stores using the social distancing markers that will remain in place on all store floors. Our employees will continue wearing masks and following enhanced cleaning measures throughout the stores. Hand sanitizer will remain available at all registers, and Plexiglas shields will still separate customers from employees when paying for spirits.

For our licensees, we know that the situation is still far from normal. We understand the need for continued flexibility in ways to sell and serve spirits, wine and beer until circumstances change. The regulatory changes implemented by our Bureau of Law Enforcement will remain in place for the duration of Executive Order 51, which at present has no expiration date. Should that change, we will be at the ready with updated guidance.

While not related to our COVID-19 response, I also want to acknowledge the difficult but necessary reckoning with systemic racism taking place in our Commonwealth. Racism, in all its forms, must be condemned. Accountability to the community is paramount for effective and fair law enforcement. As an employer, retailer and law enforcement organization, ABC will work to maintain a dialogue that supports equity and inclusion. We will seek a better understanding of one another and our own personal stories through facilitated discussions and a focus on the needs of all our employees. From these conversations will come tangible steps to strengthen ABC as an employer where all individuals are valued as part of our team. We can only fulfill our values of Accountability, Service, Integrity and Performance Excellence if we first have Equity.

Whether a pandemic or greater social change, we will adapt and be part of positive transformation. We will continue to provide updates as we move forward with everyone in the commonwealth.

Be healthy,

Travis Hill, CEO 

Previous Messages

Customer FAQs

As of July 1, 2020

Will ABC stores close?

We recognize the role our stores play in providing products to our customers and licensed businesses. We also recognize the role we play in providing needed income for our employees. The health and well-being of our valued customers and employees is our priority.

Recognizing the gravity of COVID-19 and the expanding nature of the virus, we have reduced store operating hours across the commonwealth. Since March 27, all ABC stores had been open noon to 7 p.m., seven days a week. As of June 26, store hours are adjusted to a standard opening time of noon for all stores, but stores will return to pre-pandemic closing times. You can check the closing time for your local store on our store finder page starting June 26.

We have also implemented a protocol for facility closures due to COVID-19, based on guidance from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We will follow this protocol going forward. Contact information for questions about store closures is available on a separate page on Virginia ABC’s website.

Virginia ABC is in close communication with the Northam administration, which is taking guidance from the VDH and the CDC, regarding our operations in the midst of the COVID-19 response. As the sole retailer of distilled spirits in Virginia, we are dedicated to filling our role in providing product to our licensees and the public. We will work to fulfill this responsibility in a manner that is safe for our employees and customers, considering various approaches in how our stores operate. Unlike DMV offices, our stores are not areas where individuals gather for extended periods of time or in close proximity to one another.

Customers can practice social distancing and reduce time spent in stores by placing their order online at www.abc.virginia.gov. ABC now offers a curbside pickup service at 370 of our 388 stores across the state (18 stores will not offer the service due to limited parking). To find out if your local store offers curbside pickup, check their store page on our website.

Will ABC’s central office, warehouse or regional enforcement offices close?

At this time, our Richmond central office and all 10 of our regional enforcement offices are open, and our warehouse continues to accept and receive shipments.

The Northern Virginia Regional Enforcement Office located at 6308 Grovedale Dr., Alexandria, which closed to the public on April 7, reopened as of July 1. The Hampton regional enforcement office at 4907 W. Mercury Boulevard closed to the public on March 15, and also reopened on July 1.

As circumstances continue to change due to COVID-19, we may temporarily close regional offices again. These decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Are ABC’s retail stores following any procedures to protect customers from the coronavirus?
The cleanliness and safe operation of our stores remain a priority, particularly during this pandemic. In addition to our daily cleaning efforts in our stores, we’re increasing the time spent cleaning and sanitizing. Current evidence from the CDC suggests that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. As a result, we are focusing attention on our most frequented areas such as checkout counters and bathrooms, and high-touch surfaces such as door handles and knobs. In addition, we’ve placed hand sanitizer at all registers for customer and employee use. For the health and safety of our employees and customers alike, we’ve installed Plexiglas shields at registers in all 388 of our stores.

Effective May 1, 2020, all Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority employees are required to wear either the disposable/cloth facemasks provided by ABC or their own facemask. Effective May 29, all customers entering an ABC store must also wear a mask or face covering to shop in the store. If viewing a customer’s face is the only way to identify the customer for legality of age requirements, that customer will be asked to lower their mask briefly to certify the age.

Finally, all stores are limiting the number of customers in the store at one time to no more than 10 to encourage social distancing. Stores have also installed social distancing markers to ensure customers stand at least six feet apart from one another. We want customers to feel comfortable shopping in our stores and employees to feel safe coming to work.

Will there be any delays or changes to regulations that will affect current licensees or license applicants?
We understand that this pandemic will greatly affect our licensed establishments and the service industry as a whole. We are doing what we can to provide guidance and relief from regulatory challenges where possible. Licensees are encouraged to check ABC’s COVID-19 Licensee Resources page for current information about modified regulations that are in effect as a result of COVID-19. This information will be updated as modifications are added. Individuals and businesses applying for banquet licenses are strongly encouraged to complete the application online to expedite timely processing.

Will there be any delays or changes to ABC violation hearings?
Scheduled informal conferences for licensees with violations will take place as scheduled via teleconference, but hearings will be postponed. All application hearings that are currently scheduled will occur.

Will ABC cancel on-site RSVP and MART trainings for licensees?
Yes, we have cancelled on-site RSVP and MART trainings until further notice. However, we continue to offer both these courses free of charge online. Licensees interested in signing up for online training may do so at www.abc.virginia.gov/licenses/training.

Will ABC stores still hold tasting events or grand opening events?
In the interest of the health and safety of our employees and customers, Virginia ABC has temporarily suspended grand opening events at new and relocated stores for the foreseeable future. All in-store tasting events have been cancelled immediately and indefinitely.

Will there be shortages of products in ABC stores?
We understand some suppliers may not be able to meet demands during the pandemic, but at this time, we are not anticipating shortages of products in ABC stores. Any updates will be posted to this page.

Media Room

Please check our Media Room for the latest news releases from Virginia ABC concerning COVID-19.