As of Dec. 14, 2020
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 389 of our stores. Stores have also installed social distancing markers to ensure customers stand at least six feet apart from one another.
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 covering their nose and mouth. While we have required customers wear a face mask to shop in ABC stores since May 29, effective July 20, customers will not be permitted to enter any ABC store unless they cover their nose and mouth with a mask, face covering or shield that is 2-ply and can be secured to the head. This measure is meant to help protect others in case they are infected with COVID-19 but don’t have symptoms. Public health officials indicate face masks or coverings block most large virus-carrying droplets that come out of the nose and mouth.
As part of this requirement, ABC will make every attempt to provide a mask to customers who arrive without one. For customers that cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition, we suggest using curbside pickup as an alternative to in-store shopping. 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.
As of December 14, 15 stores have returned to modified counter service, where customers stand at a safe distance from others at the front of the store while ABC employees retrieve products at their request. The available square footage and layouts of these 15 stores is such that it would be difficult to maintain a safe distance from others while browsing the aisles. Additionally, according to the Virginia Department of Health, these stores are in areas of the state with some of the highest rates of infection at the moment. The 15 stores temporarily returning to modified counter service include:
83, Falls Church
105, Virginia Beach
246, Virginia Beach
Customers may recall earlier this year we used modified counter service in many of our stores to accommodate the need for additional social distancing measures. We are not planning to widely re-institute that practice, but may decide to if COVID-19 cases in Virginia continue to surge. We will keep customers informed if that is the case. We want customers to feel comfortable shopping in our stores and employees to feel safe coming to work.
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.
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.
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 389 stores across the state (19 stores do 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.
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?
Due to COVID-19 restrictions and limited use of some regional offices, hearings may be relocated to the next closest regional office. The informal conference will be held immediately before the formal hearing to limit interaction of the parties. Please be advised that everyone attending the hearing will be required to wear a mask at all times and adhere to the six-foot social distancing guidelines.
Are on-site RSVP and MART trainings for licensees cancelled?
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.
A number of products are out-of-stock. Is this due to the pandemic?
ABC continues to experience out-of-stock products as the result of ongoing pandemic-related supplier challenges. This is happening in all states and is not exclusive to Virginia. Consumer demand, glass and aluminum shortages, and workers impacted by the virus have resulted in disruptions along the supply chain. Tequila, Cognac and ready-to-drink brands have seen the greatest impact. ABC continues to work closely with suppliers as inventory becomes available to schedule deliveries into the ABC warehouse and move product quickly to our retail stores.
Can customers of legal age purchase alcohol at Virginia ABC stores if their license has expired and they have been unable to renew it as a result of the pandemic?
According to Virginia DMV, renewals for expired Virginia driver’s licenses and identification cards which display an October 2020 expiration date have been extended 60 days. All ABC stores will honor expired IDs that are within the extension period.