Tuesday, June 28, 2022

North Carolina’s ABC loosens restrictions on outdoor drinking at restaurants for phase two

Restaurants are taking their business outdoors in order to comply with social distancing requirements in the state which is why the ABC Commission is allowing some changes to outdoor drinking. (Port City Daily/File)

NORTH CAROLINA — Things are changing in the wake of Covid-19 including the way the state regulates alcohol consumption at restaurants. When Governor Cooper announced the state would enter into phase two of the state’s reopening plan, it meant restaurants could once again welcome customers to their stores — at 50% normal operating capacity.

In order to make up for the discrepancy in capacity and to encourage social distancing some municipalities have expanded outdoor seating options for restaurants. For example, in Carolina Beach outdoor seating can be extended into the parking lots of restaurants during phase two. But typically, state alcohol permits issued by the ABC Commission do not extend outside of the storefront.

That is why the state board has issued a temporary easing of restrictions.

“In accordance with Executive Order 141, the ABC Commission will temporarily allow On-Premise ABC permit holders to include additional outdoor seating as part of their licensed premises if that space is approved by the appropriate local government entity. This temporary change is allowed to maximize social distancing. The below guidelines do not override any order from Governor Cooper, the NC Department of Health and Human Services, or any local ordinances. In the event that North Carolina reverts to Phase 1, these guidelines are invalid during that time period,” according to a statement from the ABC Commission

Restaurants won’t be required to apply for the extended permit, however, local law enforcement must be notified of any intentions to allow drinking on adjacent property.

“In addition to receiving approval from the appropriate local government entity, the permittee must notify their ALE agent, the District ALE office or local law enforcement of the temporary extension of premises prior to use of the extended area. This includes those who will be temporarily extending their premises onto their own property (yard or parking lot, for example),” according to the ABC Commission.

Restaraunt owners have to maintain a diagram for reference as to where the extended area will be and where tables will be located outdoors.

“The extension of premises must be adjacent to, abutting, and connected to the primary licensed premises. One of the exterior walls of the licensed premises must be part of the extended area,” according to the state.

Restaurants are also being required to mark off the extended areas to ensure that citizens can clearly distinguish where the area begins and ends, in order to avoid confusion and possible infractions. Customers are not permitted to remove their drinks from outside of the extended area.

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