Virginia ABC > COVID-19


A Message to Our Customers and Industry Partners

July 17, 2020

One of my fondest college basketball memories was watching my favorite team finish a game against a conference rival after all but four of the rival team’s players fouled out of the game. Needless to say, a team with one less player hasn’t got much of a chance of winning. The same is true when it comes to fighting COVID-19. The experience of the last four months has proven that wearing a face mask or face covering while inside a store, a church, office, hair salon, concert hall or movie theater is critical to protecting the health of others and yourself. We will not be able to control the COVID-19 pandemic unless we have everyone committed to the team and abiding by the same rules.

Starting Monday, July 20, Virginia ABC will join other retailers like Walmart and Kroger to help slow the spread of the virus by enforcing a no mask, no entry policy when shopping in any of our 389 stores. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), face coverings help decrease the spread of COVID-19, and because the virus can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms and don’t know they are infected, it’s vitally important for everyone to practice social distancing and wear a face covering in public. We understand that sometimes a customer may accidentally forget a mask. In those cases, we will do all we can to provide a mask to that customer, however the rule will remain – no mask, no entry.

Over the last few months, Virginia ABC has implemented safety measures using retailer guidance provided by the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC to include:

  • mandatory use of face masks by store employees
  • Plexiglas shields at registers
  • floor markers to ensure customers stand at least 6 feet apart from one another
  • daily cleaning and sanitizing with particular attention to most frequented areas including checkout counters and high-touch surfaces such as door handles and knobs, and
  • hand sanitizer at registers for customer and employee use.

Customers also have a shopping option that doesn’t require going into a store. ABC offers curbside pickup for online orders at 370 stores across the commonwealth. After placing an online order at www.abc.virginia.gov, customers can opt for contactless pickup of spirits, Virginia wines and mixers from ABC stores the same day the order is placed, as long as the selected products are available in the store.

We have worked hard to create a shopping environment that is safe for customers and employees, and we want a bottle to be the only thing you take home from one of our stores.

Because our service and responsibility to maintain safety extends beyond the confines of our stores, we have also been asked by Governor Northam to step up enforcement efforts at our licensed establishments, with particular attention to those in the state’s Hampton Roads area, which has experienced a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases. Virginia ABC along with the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has initiated unannounced inspections to ensure compliance with a rule ordering no service at bars, as well as business guidelines requiring social distancing.

Striking a balance between safety and rebuilding our economy is challenging these days, to say the least. Virginia ABC remains committed to supporting its partners and customers to maintain a healthy environment at work and at play, in the hopes that these efforts will contribute to a healthy and prosperous Commonwealth.

Be healthy,

Travis Hill, CEO 

Previous Messages

Customer FAQs

As of Aug. 28, 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.

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.

Finally, 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 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.

Will there be shortages of products in ABC stores?
We understand some suppliers may not be able to meet demands during the pandemic due to facility closures and transportation delays. At this time, the spirits categories cognac and tequila are particularly affected, but many products are facing inventory difficulties. We are in contact with suppliers and will share updates as available.

Media Room

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