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Adjusting to COVID-19 Restrictions

Licensing wants to work with you to adjust to the restrictions required to keep us all safe and healthy while we respond to the global pandemic. We have developed some guidance to help you navigate some of these changes.  
Special Occasion Licenses
We recognize that everyone’s efforts to social distance and keep each other healthy has significantly reduced the ability for nonprofits to hold fund raising events. During the COVID-19 response, the WSLCB is taking the following approach to Special Occasion License applications:
  • No Special Occasion Licenses will be issued for any in-person gatherings until the County has moved into Phase 4.
  • Special Occasion Licenses will only be issued for virtual events at this time.
  • You may hold Virtual auctions with a Special Occasion License, but silent online auctions are not allowed (see the guidance here, for more information about the difference between virtual and online auctions).
If you have questions about selling alcohol to support your nonprofit, please email us at specialoccasions@lcb.wa.gov or call us at 360-664-1600. 
Floor Plan Alterations
Many licensees are making changes to their floor plans and adding or expanding their outside seating to accommodate social distancing.  Some tips to keep in mind:
  • If you are only moving tables to meet social distancing requirements, you do not need to notify the WSLCB.
  • If you are changing the boundaries of your outside liquor sales, or want to add outside seating to your license, fill out the Liquor Alteration Request form and email it to liquoralterations@lcb.wa.gov.
  • Temporary barriers are required around outside areas unless you have a sidewalk café exception.
  • “Streateries” require temporary barriers unless you are asking for this area on a permanent basis, then the barriers need to be permanent barriers.
Please remember that you need approval from your local jurisdiction and the WSLCB to serve alcohol outside your licensed premises.
Nightclub License Conversions
Nightclub license holders cannot open until Phase 4. If you would like to consider converting your nightclub license to either a spirts/beer/wine restaurant or beer/wine restaurant, please e-mail us at RetailLiquorLicensing@lcb.wa.gov to see if this is an option for your business.
  • Your assigned licensing specialist will request the following documents:
    • Menu - All menus are required to meet the food standards contained in WAC 314-02-035 to receive an S/B/W Restaurant License.
    • Floor plan - A floor plan will be required only if you plan to serve minors after obtaining an S/B/W Restaurant License. If you are planning to continue serve only persons over the age of 21, no floor plan will be required.
  • Licensing will do our best to expedite the license change process.
  • Once approved, you will receive an approval letter confirming the changes via email.
There is no fee for this change. 

New Endorsement Allows Breweries to Sell Wine and Wineries to Sell Beer for On-premises Consumption

Senate bill 5006 created a new endorsement for breweries and wineries to allow expanded alcohol service at retail tasting rooms for on-premises consumption. The new endorsement: 
  • Allows licensed domestic wineries to sell up to three beer offerings by the glass 
  • Allows licensed domestic brewery or microbrewery to sell up to three wine offerings by the glass 
  • Requires that the wine sold in breweries and beer sold in wineries for on-premises consumption be produced in Washington State
  •  Fee is $200 for each retail location 
You can apply for the On-Premises Consumption endorsement through our Application for Added Endorsement, found here

Face Covering Requirements for Employees with Medical Conditions or Disabilities

As you have probably heard, the Liquor and Cannabis Board’s Enforcement and Education Division is one of the governmental bodies responsible for regulating the provisions of Governor Inslee’s COVID-19 Proclamations for liquor, cannabis, tobacco and vapor-licensed businesses. 
Recently, Governor Inslee issued Proclamation 20-25.4 requiring employees to wear face coverings.  An exception to the face covering requirement extends to employees with a diagnosed medical condition or disability. If an employee claims to have a medical condition that keeps them from meeting the face covering requirement, they must provide the employer with an accommodation statement from a medical professional specifying that a mask should not be worn due to a present health condition. 
The Washington Department of Commerce published tips for employers in their weekly newsletter. This advice will help employers in navigating State reasonable accommodation requirements.  
For general statewide face covering requirements, the Washington State Coronavirus Response website is an excellent resource.  Here is the Business Signage toolkit which can help with guest and employee requirements. 

Update on LCB's Systems Modernization Project (SMP)

LCB’s current online systems are outdated and can be difficult to navigate
The LCB’s online system is made up of a variety of very outdated applications that manage licensing and agency business processes for cannabis, vapor products, tobacco, beer, spirits, wine, and our enforcement and education services. Maintaining these old systems is costly and limits the ability to make improvements to functionality and ease of use. The risk of system failure is also a significant concern.
Developing a new system that meets requirements and improves functionality
The agency is working on a project called Systems Modernization Project (SMP) to develop a new system to replace the outdated systems with an integrated system. The new system will be called Licensing, Enforcement, Education, and Administrative Data Systems (LEEADS). It will have an on-line portal where applicants can see the status of their applications and add or modify information directly. On-line payments will be possible, and licensees will be able to see their license history for all of their licenses, permits, and endorsements in one location.
Learning what licensees need and want from an online licensing system
The project team includes staff experts from each LCB area to ensure the new system meets the needs of staff and licensees from each area. Project staff have been contacting licensees from a variety of license types to get insight into their needs and experiences with LCB’s systems. As the project moves forward, licensee feedback will help shape the development of the LEEADS system. A selection of licensees will also be contacted for help in testing the system. The project team will be providing updates to the Alcohol Advisory Committee, and all licensees will be kept updated on LEEADS progress via this newsletter and other ways. If you have questions please email the project team at SMP@lcb.wa.gov.

Stay Atop Changes Related to COVID-19 

With the constant shifts due to COVID-19, it can be hard to keep track of what requirements are currently in place. An easy way to stay informed is to regularly check the Washington State Guidelines Regarding the Coronavirus page on the WSLCB website.
This page is being regularly updated so that you can be sure you're running your business within the most current guidelines. There are also direct links to the Governor's Safe Start Plan and an At-a-Glance description of guidance specific to Alcohol Licensees, outlined by phases.  
Promote public safety and trust through fair administration and enforcement of liquor, cannabis, tobacco, and vapor laws.
-WSLCB Mission Statement
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