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Statement from Mayor Bowser on the Introduction of the Reopen Washington, DC Alcohol Act

Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Proposed Legislation Filed Today Would Help Rebuild the District’s Economy

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser released the following statement on the Reopen Washington, DC Alcohol Act, which was filed with the Council of the District of Columbia. The legislation proposes several innovative approaches to help rebuild the District’s economy by providing businesses and patrons with expanded opportunities; bringing essential services, including new full-service grocery stores, to Wards 7 and 8; and maintaining the city’s reputation as a top destination to live, work, and dine out.

“I have charged my Administration with developing bold, innovative solutions to ensure our businesses and the workers they employ can thrive beyond this pandemic. As we continue to focus on boosting the District’s economy, this legislation will move us in the right direction by removing hurdles for businesses and providing new ways to bring in revenue. Since the public health emergency began last March, the District has led the nation in pivoting to support restaurants and food service establishments through various funding opportunities, including the $100 million Bridge Fund, the $33 million DC Small Business Microgrant Program, the Ward 7 and 8 Microgrant Program, the Small Business Resiliency Fund, and the Streatery Winter Ready Grant Program. As we move toward a new normal, we will continue creating more innovative programs that help local businesses make it to the other side of this pandemic.”

Proposed provisions in the Reopen Washington, DC Alcohol Act include:

  • Extending programs introduced on an emergency basis, including Streateries
  • Establishing a Commercial Lifestyle License that allows patrons to walk around and consume alcohol purchased from on-premises establishments within predefined boundaries
  • Creating a new 25 percent full-service grocery store Class A License to help attract new full service grocery stores to Wards 7 and 8; applicants interested in using this license to open a Class A grocery store in Wards 1-6 must first operate such a store in Wards 7 and 8 for at least six months
  • Amending several licensing operational requirements

The Proposed Act

Introduction of Proposed Act

To amend Title 25 of the District of Columbia Official Code to make amendments to the law regulating the sale, transportation and consumption of alcoholic beverages including amending the definition of spirits to change the alcohol by volume percentage from 15% to 21%; to amend the definition of entertainment to include trivia nights with microphones; to add the terms and definitions for alcohol training and education certification provider, closed container, commercial lifestyle center license, curbside delivery, management agreement and prepared food; to repeal the definition for cooperative agreement; to allow on-premises retailer licenses, class C or D, to register with the Board to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption at up to 2 additional locations; to allow on-premises retailer licenses, class C or D, manufacturer’s license, class A, B, or C, or Convention Center food and alcohol businesses to register with the Board to sell, serve, or allow the consumption of alcoholic beverages on new or expanded ground level or street level outdoor public or private space each year in 2021, 2022 and 2023; to allow restaurants and hotels to permit patrons to remove partially consumed bottles or other containers of spirits from the premises; to allow caterers to purchase alcoholic beverages from a wholesaler for a catered event of any size; to create a commercial lifestyle center license; to change the permitted hours of operation of sidewalk cafés and summer gardens for manufacturers, class A, B, or C, holding an on-site sales and consumption permit to between the hours of 6 a.m. and 1 a.m.; to change the hours of entertainment for manufacturer licenses, class A, B, or C, holding an on-site sales and consumption permit to between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m.; to replace the term “beer pub endorsement” with “brew pub endorsement” wherever it appears; to make technical changes to existing tasting sample limits; to allow manufacturer and wholesaler licenses and private collectors to offer tastings between the hours of 6 a.m. and 1 a.m.; to allow holders of a distillery pub permit to sell distilled spirits for off-premises consumption between the hours of 6 a.m. and 1 a.m.; to create a third-party alcohol delivery license; to clarify the fee for FOIA requests; to require document requests to be submitted to ABRA’s FOIA Officer; to allow the holder of an on-premises retailer’s license, class CR, DR, CT or DT, to hold an interest in no more than one off-premises retailer’s license, class A, B, AI, or BI; to prohibit an on-premises retailer’s license, off-premises retailer’s license, or manufacturer’s license from holding an interest in a third-party alcohol delivery license; to allow class B retailer full-service grocery stores to hold an interest in a tavern license; to create a 25% grocery store class A retailer’s license for eligible applicants applying for a location to operate a newly constructed grocery store in Wards 7 and 8; to allow a 25% grocery store off-premises retailer’s license class A or a class B retailer full service grocery store to sell individual containers of 70 ounces or less of beer, malt liquor, or ale in Wards 7 and 8; to prohibit nightclubs in the Georgetown Historic District but allow new taverns; to allow nightclub licensees which permit nude dancing previously located in Buzzard Point to move to a new location within 24 months; to allow an applicant for an ABC Manager’s or solicitor’s license to self-certify the license application; to allow for electronic signatures and electronic signed copies; to require ABC licensed establishments with security cameras to ensure that they are operational and able to record and to turn over their recordings to ABRA or MPD within 48 hours of a request; to require a mandatory training for new ABC licensees; to allow ABC licensees to self-certify applications; to remove the requirement that applicants must resubmit their security plans when renewing their ABC license; to clarify how the Board will give notice of unilateral petitions to terminate or amend settlement agreements; to allow for electronic service to Advisory Neighborhood Commissions; to require notice be given to the public for manufacturers whose hours of sale, service or hours of operation end after 1 a.m.; to clarify the requirements for requesting a subpoena from the Board; to establish commercial lifestyle center license fees, sports wagering endorsement fees and third-party delivery license fees; to require employees and agents to carry their identification while working and to clarify that ABRA investigators may request an employee’s identification while they are on duty including while delivering alcoholic beverages; to allow wholesalers to sell and deliver alcoholic beverages between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m.; to establish requirements for management agreements; to remove obsolete cross-references; to correct the name for on-premises retailer license holders; to clarify that the term consume means allow the consumption of alcoholic beverages; to allow manufacturer licenses to offer curbside delivery of alcoholic beverages between the hours of 6 a.m. and 1 a.m.; to replace the term voluntary agreement with settlement agreement wherever it appears; to allow retailer licensees and manufacturer’s licensees that hold an on-site sales and consumption permit to open to the public at 6 a.m.; to establish the hours of operation, service, and consumption for holders of a new commercial lifestyle center license; to allow the holders of retailer, wholesaler and manufacturer licenses with an on-site sales and consumption permit to offer curbside delivery of alcoholic beverages; to repeal the requirement that wholesalers and manufacturers file monthly reports with the Board; to allow off-premises retailer’s licenses, class A, to sell fewer than 6 miniatures of spirits and wine when in gift baskets or other promotional packaging; to clarify that false or misleading statements are not allowed in advertisements; to allow licensees to register with ABRA to operate one or more outdoor common seating areas to be utilized by patrons purchasing food and alcoholic beverages for carry-out; to clarify that stayed suspension days activate whenever the licensee commits another primary tier violation within one year; to repeal the prohibition against persons of notoriously intemperate habits; to create an affirmative defense for licensees that are shown and inspect fake identifications presented by minors that are of such quality that a reasonable person would believe that they were authentic; to exempt nightclub licensees which permit nude dancing from the safekeeping fee requirement provided annual licensing and renewal fees are paid; to consolidate and clarify the requirements for security plans and security cameras; to allow the Board to suspend or revoke an ABC license if the licensee or employee assaults an ABRA investigator or member of MPD; to clarify what constitutes interference with an ABRA or MPD investigation; and to require that proposed amendments to the civil penalty schedule undergo a 90-day Council review.