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Virginia ABC > COVID-19 > Licensee Resources

Licensee Resources

Carding During COVID

Executive Order 63 still requires individuals to wear face coverings when in public areas to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Verifying identity and age of an individual making an alcohol purchase can be difficult for licensees.

When checking identification for an individual wearing a mask, please follow these steps:

  • Check the ID for authenticity and date of birth as you normally would.
  • Compare physical features of the individual, such as hairline, shape and position of ears and eyes.
  • Ask the individual to step back and lower their mask to ensure proper identification.

View PDF of Carding During COVID guide. Vermont Dept of Liquor and Lottery

Click the image to view a carding guide courtesy of Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery.

Bureau of Law Enforcement Updates

Pursuant to Executive Order Fifty One (51), Declaration of a State of Emergency due to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), and acting under the Authority, the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement has published responses regarding procedural and regulatory matters for ABC licensed businesses affected by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Information about the following topics are available in a single document. Questions regarding this document or the information contained within should be addressed to the Bureau of Law Enforcement at 804-213-4565 or enforcement@virginiaabc.com.


Topic 1: (03/13/20) ABC response to the return of product by wholesalers from retailers affected by COVID-19

Topic 2: (03/13/20) ABC response to the requirement for signature by purchaser at the time of delivery on invoices covering such sale.

Topic 3: (03/16/20) ABC response to the requirement for signature by recipient at the time of delivery when a licensee is making a delivery through the use of a delivery permit.

Topic 4: (03/17/20) ABC response to the Virginia law regarding the delivery of wine & beer to a customer seated in a vehicle.

Topic 5: (03/17/20) ABC response to the Virginia Regulation prohibiting drive through establishments and delivering to a customer in a vehicle. (MANUFACTURER LICENSEES)

Topic 6: (03/17/20) ABC response to expedited process for issuance of delivery permits.
NOTE: To apply for an expedited delivery permit the licensee must have an OFF PREMISE license or a Brewery, Winery, or Farm Winery License. The licensee must first locate the Territory number on their existing ABC license. Then, using that Territory number, the licensee should locate the appropriate agent’s email address from the Regional Territory Guide (XLS). The licensee should then email their ABC agent and allow 24 hours for a response. Licensees should contact their ABC regional office if they have not been contacted by their agent within 24 hours. 

Topic 7: (03/17/20) ABC response to designated ABC distillery stores delivering to customers seated in vehicle.

Topic 8: (03/18/20) ABC response to Distilleries producing hand sanitizer. Updated 3/24 to include pharmacies and pharmacists.

Topic 9: (03/19/2020) General Permit for off premises sale of wine and beer and waiver of delivery permit

Topic 10: (03/19/2020) Waiver of delivery permit for off premises licensees

Topic 11: (03/23/20) ABC response to the use of alternative containers or novel containers 

Topic 12: (04/09/20) ABC response to Executive Directive 10 for the deferring of collection for license renewals and waiver of penalties. Updated 9/29 to clarify the continuation of license renewal fee deferral through the expiration of Executive Order 51.

Topic 13: (04/09/20) ABC response to Executive Directive 10 for the sale and service of cocktails for off premise consumption.

Topic 14: (04/20/20) ABC response to deferred exchange of product by beer wholesale licensees to significantly impacted retailers.

Topic 15: (04/23/20) ABC response to licensed breweries utilizing the licensed premises to manufacturer hand sanitizer.

Topic 16: (05/13/20) ABC Response to Temporary Approval of Outside Dining Areas

Outside Dining FAQs

As of May 14, 2020

If I have an existing outside dining area that was previously approved by ABC, do I need to notify ABC before I reopen the area to customers?

No. Any outside dining areas previously approved by ABC remain in effect. They are not subject to this expedited process and required conditions. The licensee is responsible for complying with Governor Northam’s Executive Order 61 and 62 or any subsequent executive orders in these areas.

If I have an ABC license and want to create a new outside dining area, what information does ABC need in order to expedite the approval process?

Before a licensee is able to use the temporary outside dining area, they must provide to ABC a diagram of the area, written approval from the local government for use of the area, and written permission from the owner of the property (if the property is not currently owned or leased by the licensee) to have exclusive control over the area with expressed permission to the Virginia Department of Health and any other regulatory agency for entry and inspection of the area. Once their local ABC agent acknowledges receipt of those items, the licensee may begin using the area pending final approval or disapproval from ABC.

What types of areas might fall under this temporary approval?

To meet the requirements for the expedited process, the area must be contiguous to the licensee’s leased premises. If the area is not contiguous, it shall be within 100 feet of the licensed premises. Some areas that may meet these requirements could be sidewalks and parking areas. Licensees cannot share or comingle outside dining areas with other licensees. See ABC’s Topic 16 for more information.

If my business received expedited approval from ABC, will an ABC agent need to visit my establishment and make a final determination before I can open the outside area to customers?
Once you receive acknowledgement from your local ABC agents that you have submitted the required items from Topic 16, you may start using the outside area. An ABC agent may visit the establishment in the future.

Is it possible for a business with an existing outside dining area to expand their area? Would they go through the same process as establishments that want to create a new outside dining area?


If my restaurant doesn’t have an ABC license but I want to create a new outside dining area for my customers, do I need to contact ABC?

No. Only ABC licensed businesses seeking to create a new outside dining area or expand an existing outdoor area need to contact the authority. All other establishments are encouraged to reach out to their local government for guidance.

How does this guidance apply to food? Will people be able to eat in these temporary expanded outdoor areas?

Yes. The areas are to be used for table seating and used exclusively for dining and/or beverage consumption (no food or drink preparation). Meals as defined in Virginia ABC Circular Letter 16-03 dated April 16, 2016 must be offered during the time the establishment is using the temporary area.

Does the area have to be enclosed? What type of barrier is needed for temporary areas?

The entire area must be enclosed with a well-defined barrier designed to prevent entry and exit except for at the designated entry and exit point(s). An example of an acceptable barrier would be the temporary orange event fencing.

Cocktails To Go FAQs

As of April 10, 2020

I only have to go cup lids with holes. Can I use them?
If a lid has a straw hole or sipping hole, the lid may be used if any hole(s) are completely covered and rendered inoperable. For example, a licensee could place a sticker or tape over the holes making it a solid lid. This is similar for a lid that is difficult to secure and the licensee can secure the lid with tape. A second option would be to wrap the entire lid and cup in a plastic wrap that creates a solid top and secure lid.

Does happy hour pricing still apply (no discounting after 9 p.m.)?
Yes, no discounts permitted after 9 p.m.

Can a restaurant come out with new pricing (ex. $5 mixed drinks or cocktails all day for the next month)?
A mixed beverage licensee could have a price for “to go” cocktails that is different than the regular menu price during this temporary privilege as long as the discount is not below cost and there is no advertising that entices illegal actions like intoxication or underage consumption. All other advertising regulations apply. The “to go” cocktail price would have to be the same at all times or the discounted price would have to end at 9 p.m.

Can I sell a pitcher of margaritas if it contains a maximum of four drinks?
No. For each meal ordered, the restaurant may sell two cocktails in individual 16-ounce containers. A maximum of four 16-ounce cocktails may be purchased assuming two meals were ordered. Sales of “to go” pitchers, no matter what the size, are not permitted.

What is meant by “maximum combined volume not to exceed 16 ounces” in your guidance document?
All contents of the cocktail or mixed drink must be 16 ounces or less. This includes ice, but there is no requirement for a cocktail or drink to be served with ice. The customer could add ice at their home.

Can a customer bring their own container to the restaurant such as a mini growler or water bottle that has a screw top and no sip top?
No, all cocktails and mixed drinks must be served in a container provided by the licensee.

What age is required for the delivery driver of mixed drinks or cocktails?
The delivery driver must be at least 21 years old.

Can a restaurant sell a sealed ready-to-drink canned cocktail that does not qualify as a low alcohol beverage cooler (meaning, a drink containing one-half of 1% or more of alcohol by volume, but no more than 7.5% alcohol by volume)?
No. Restaurants cannot sell mixed beverages to go, for carry out or delivery in their original container.

Can a restaurant sell 50ml bottles (minis) of spirits to go, for carry out or delivery?

Can we sell a shot of just spirits or a pour of just spirits on the rocks?
No. All cocktails or mixed drinks must contain one mixer and must be served with the ingredients (spirits and mixer) combined.

Can I break up takeout and delivery orders into separate orders to increase the amount of cocktails or mixed drinks that can be sold to individuals?
No. The maximum four cocktails for restaurants and two mixed drinks for distilleries per order applies to per vehicle pick-up and/or per delivery address.