Governor Kate Brown is planning to sign into law Oregon Senate Bill 1801 which will allow many Oregon bars and restaurants to sell alcohol “drinks-to-go.” On Tuesday, December 22, 2020 the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) held a special commission meeting in order to enact temporary rules that align with the drinks-to-go legislation.
The legislature approved SB 1801 as part of a package of economic relief measures it took up during a one-day special legislative session on Monday, December 21, 2020. Under the new law, OLCC licensees with full on-premises sales licenses (F-COM) will be allowed to sell and deliver mixed alcohol drinks or individual servings of wine in sealed containers for off-premises consumption.
At its special meeting the commission approved temporary rules that define the requirements of alcohol in drink-to-go containers, the boundaries for drink-to-go deliveries, and the public safety obligations for OLCC licensees.
“This is a major win for industry, and by no means a cure-all, but a positive step in the right direction,” said OLCC Commissioner Kiauna Floyd. Floyd, herself an OLCC licensed operator, praised the legislature for reconvening in another special session and taking up SB 1801. “The great work done here is immensely appreciated by an [hospitality] industry that employs over 170,000 Oregonians.”
The temporary rules will allow F-COM licensees to sell mixed alcohol “drinks-to-go” with limited to specific amounts of distilled spirits or wine, or single servings of wine. Licensees are not required to use a specific type of size of container for the to-go drink, however it must be securely sealed before it leaves the bar or restaurant where the drink is made.
Alcohol “to-go-drinks” are required to be paired with food items cooked or prepared by the same licensed establishment selling the drinks. Consumers may use Third Party Platforms (TPP), such as food delivery ordering app, to order alcohol drinks-to-go as long as the order meets the food pairing requirement.
Licensees that deliver alcohol drinks-to-go and TTPs that contract with F-Com licensees to deliver alcohol drinks-to-go are responsible for verifying the age of the person receiving the alcohol drink delivery and must not complete the delivery if the person receiving the order is inebriated.
The temporary rules for drinks-to-go take effect as soon as SB 1801 becomes law. The OLCC has created guidance for licensees about alcohol “drinks-to-go" which can be found on the OLCC website under the Alcohol Licensing section at: www.oregon.gov/olcc/pages/drinks-to-go.
From the outset of the pandemic, OLCC Chairman Paul Rosenbaum and all members of the commission made clear that they would do all that they could, within their authority and consistent with public health emergency restrictions, to assist economically challenged licensees.
Although the OLCC has a mandate to regulate the sale and service of alcoholic beverages, the Commission is also charged with supporting local economic development. “We recognize that a Drinks-to-Go Program, while warranted and particularly critical at this time, is not enough to preserve income streams that sustain small businesses,” said Rosenbaum.
Rosenbaum pledged that the Commission would continue to look for ways to provide financial regulatory relief to licensees, including working with the Governor and legislature to consider waiving license fees the OLCC allowed licensees to defer paying.
“Oregon’s local small businesses play a significant role in supporting the social and economic fabric of both our rural and urban communities,” said Rosenbaum. “The Commission must do everything in its power to preserve and protect this industry so that, because believe me if we don’t, after the pandemic has run its course, these small businesses won’t be around to continue to serve our communities.”