Liquor in the Time of COVID: Direct to Home Sales Thumbnail

Liquor in the Time of COVID: Direct to Home Sales

The Ohio Division of Liquor Control recently announced that it would be establishing rules required for permit holders to deliver high-proof liquor directly to consumers (pursuant to the recent passage of House Bill 674).  This is another expansion of liquor sales in Ohio due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Direct to Home Sales – H.B. 674
Effective April 12, 2021, H.B. 674 allows for the delivery of high-proof spiritous liquor by permit holders directly to personal consumers in original containers in Ohio.  The Law also allows for the retail sale of liquor pods (think of your single-serve coffee pods), and treats liquor pods as a mixed beverage for regulatory purposes.
Before permit holders begin direct-to-consumer sales, however, the Division of Liquor Control first has to implement rules compatible with its current inventory sales platform and that will support delivery in a safe and responsible manner.  So, while the Law was effective April 12, 2021, permit holders should contact the Division before beginning direct-to-consumer sales of high-proof spiritous liquor.  The regulations need to catch-up to the legislation.
This Law also included other provisions, like establishing exceptions for microbreweries that do not want to obtain a retail food establishment license, as long as they meet the food requirements by serving prepackaged meals, non-alcoholic beverages, and maintaining a food truck schedule.  This and other provisions of the Law are summarized here.
The Great Outdoors
The expansion of liquor sales and easing of certain restrictions is consistent with prior changes made during the pandemic, including allowing the temporary expansion of liquor permit premises (pursuant to H.B. 669, which was effective Oct. 13, 2020), which can continue until December 31, 2022.  The temporary expansion of permit premises must be outdoors, including areas such as the permit holder’s parking area or immediately adjacent public or private property (e.g., sidewalks).  The expanded area must be immediately adjacent to the permit holder’s premises.
To temporarily expand the liquor permit premises, the permit holder must: (1) clearly identify the expanded area where consumers may consume alcoholic beverages, (2) notify the Division and the Dept. of Public Safety Investigative Unit of the area where the permit holder intends to expand at least 10 days before expanded sales begin, and (3) obtain consent from any adjacent public or private property owner on which the expansion is to take place (if any).
The temporary outdoor expansion will expire December 31, 2022.

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