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Public Safety & Quality of Life

Alcohol Delivery and “To Go” Legislation, an act to extend the SLA’s guidance on restrictions for licensees and to-go and delivery sales in response to Covid-19 outbreak

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, June 11, 2020, the following resolution passed with a vote of 44 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, In an effort to control the outbreak of COVID-19 in New York State, pursuant to the Governor’s order, effective Monday, March 16, 2020 at 8:00PM, all licensed on-premises establishments (e.g. restaurants, bars, taverns, clubs, arenas, catering establishments, etc.) must cease on-premises sales of alcoholic beverages and/or food; and

WHEREAS, This restriction shall continue until June 27, 2020 but may be extended or reduced depending upon the circumstances; and

WHEREAS, To aid in prevention of the spread of the coronavirus and assist businesses impacted by the current state of emergency, the Governor has ordered the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to promulgate guidance on new off-premises privileges for licensed businesses with on-premises privileges; and

WHEREAS, Accordingly, the SLA offered the following guidance:

1. Any on-premises licensee and any manufacturing licensee with on-premises retail privileges may sell for off-premises consumption any alcoholic beverages that it is able to sell for on premises consumption under the law. 

2. Alcoholic beverages sold for off-premises consumption pursuant to this guidance may be sold in any closed or any sealed original container of any size.  Provided that:

3. Alcoholic beverages sold for off-premises consumption pursuant to this guidance may be sold for takeout from the licensed premises or may be delivered to the customer’s residence. 

4. Alcoholic beverages sold for off-premises consumption pursuant to this guidance may only be sold during the on-premises hours of operation of the county in which the premises is located or, if different, the hours of operation set forth in the licensee’s method of operation with the Authority.

5. While this guidance restricts on-premises privileges, this does not modify any off-premises privileges currently included with a license.

6. Any licensed business found to be operating in violation of the Governor’s order restricting on-premises sales of alcoholic beverages shall face a monetary penalty (retail maximum of $10,000/manufacturer maximum of $100,000), and/or suspension, cancellation, or revocation of its license; and

WHEREAS, These restrictions and additional privileges shall continue until June 27, 2020 but may be extended or reduced depending upon the circumstances; and

WHEREAS, State Senator Hoylman has introduced legislation to permit licensees under the alcoholic beverage control law to continue to sell and deliver alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption but adds additional oversight and community input requirements; and

WHEREAS, The bill would allow, for two years after the expiration of the COVID-19 state disaster emergency (as such term is defined in section 20 of the executive law), any on-premises licensee and any manufacturing licensee with on-premises retail privileges to sell for off-premises consumption any alcoholic beverages that it is licensed to sell for on-premises consumption; and

WHEREAS, The bill would require such beverages to be sold in closed/sealed containers, accompanied by the purchase of food, and comply with open container laws and it would allow such beverages to be sold via takeout or delivery, and provide certain specifications as to the type of vehicle that can be used for deliveries; and

WHEREAS, The bill would require hours of takeout/delivery sales to be consistent with the County's required on-premises hours of operation or the hours of operation set forth in the licensee’s method of operation with the SLA; and

WHEREAS, To ensure community input, the bill would require the SLA to conduct regular outreach to municipalities and community boards to solicit comment and report to the Legislature and Governor within 6 months on the implementation of the act and the SLA would also be required to hold three hearings on the law between 4 months and 2 months before the law is set to expire - One in NYC, one in Western NY, and one in the Capital Region; and

WHEREAS, The bill would also permit the SLA to suspend or revoke a licensee’s ability to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption, after a hearing and would permit municipalities and community boards to express an opinion for or against allowing the licensee to continue to do so; and

WHEREAS, Manhattan Community Board Five supports this legislation with the following caveats:

  1. To ensure safety of patrons and pedestrians alike, patrons purchasing alcohol to-go must not be permitted to loiter or socialize in the vicinity of the serving premises; and
  2. NYC’s Open Container Law, which prohibits anyone from drinking in any public place unless the space is licensed or permitted, must be strictly complied with and enforced to prevent such drinking in public; and
  3. Measures must be taken to ensure that delivery recipients are of legal drinking age; and
  4. In response to complaints by the public or community boards, the SLA’s ability to suspend or revoke a licensee’s ability to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption must be quick and efficient; and
  5. The bill must be equitably administered to ensure fair treatment and inclusion of all small businesses; and

WHEREAS, Members of the public appeared and commented regarding this matter and the comments and concerns of the community were taken into consideration in making these recommendations; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends enactment of the so called “Alcohol Delivery Bill,” provided that the above conditions are incorporated into the legislation 

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