BABLO Issues Guidance on Reopening

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On May 14, 2020, the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations (BABLO) issued a memorandum providing guidance for which licensees will be considered a “restaurant” and which will be considered a “bar” under the Stay Safer at Home Executive Order. We highly recommend reading the entire memorandum to ensure that your establishment meets its requirements. The failure to do so can have adverse consequences including an emergency license suspension for threatening public health.

As a general matter, breweries, wineries, and distilleries will be considered “bars,” meaning that they cannot open until July 1, 2020, provided that they meet the health and safety precautions and requirements identified in the memorandum. Because of the limited capacity of their indoor space, some locations may want to offer outdoor seating or expand existing outdoor seating to make it easier to fulfill social distancing norms. If you intend on doing so, outside consumption must comply with your application diagram on file with BABLO. If you do not currently have approval for outdoor seating, there is an application (the link is in the memorandum) to apply for an extension of privileges. That application must first be approved by the municipality and then emailed to BABLO. You cannot serve liquor in the outside seating space until the application is approved by BABLO. If you do have approval for outdoor seating, but want to expand it, you need to complete the application for extension of privileges and submit it to BABLO, but municipal approval is not required. You cannot serve alcohol in the extended area until the extension is approved. We recommend that you start this process as soon as possible because municipalities and BABLO will likely be extremely busy in the coming weeks.

If you have certain Chapter 43 licenses, such as restaurants (license numbers starting with CAR, RES, or CARL), you can open the Chapter 43 licensed facility on May 18, 2020 in all counties except Androscoggin, Cumberland, Penobscot, and York. In those four counties, such establishments can reopen on June 1, 2020. In either case, all health and safety precautions and requirements must be met. In addition, the tasting rooms in the manufacturing facilities are considered bars, and cannot open until July 1, 2020, as outlined above. Also, please note, Chapter 43 Class A Lounge Licenses (license numbers starting with CAL) are considered “bars” and cannot open until July 1, 2020 regardless of county.

Finally, the memorandum continues to allow the temporary privileges related to “to go” beer, wine and cocktails until further notice.

Again, we recommend that you read the memorandum in its entirety and understand its contents prior to opening.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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