Everything Bars Need to Know About Reopening in Phase III

Last week, Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order #169 allowing bars to reopen for outdoor alcohol consumption. Along with the outdoor service requirement came additional measures to address Covid-19 from the Governor and the ABC. The most notable of those measures is the continuation of temporary extensions of premises for on-premise consumption granted by the ABC. In addition to the temporary extension, there are several requirements bars must follow in order to comply with the Executive Order.

Temporary Extension

The temporary extension of premises for on-premise consumption means that, with approval by local government, bars may temporarily expand to include additional outdoor space as part of their permitted premises. A lot of bars and restaurants have already begun expanding into surrounding sidewalks and even streets in some cases. If all of the requirements are met, Permittees do not need to apply to the ABC for a temporary extension. The following is required for bars who wish to take advantage of the temporary extension:

  • Permittees must get written approval from local government and the owner of the property prior to expanding into areas not already approved for consumption.
  • Permittees must notify their ALE agent, the District ALE office, or local law enforcement of the temporary extension prior to actually using the extended area.
  • The extension must be adjacent to the licensed premises, must be visibly sectioned off from public areas (through planters, bike racks, crowd control stands), and must comply with ADA accessibility requirements
  • The Permittee must have a diagram on premise showing the size and location of the temporary extension, the types of barriers used, and the number of tables and chairs in the extension area
  • The extension does not increase the maximum occupancy established prior to the extension

Of course, all alcohol laws which were not displaced by this temporary extension are still in effect. This means that customers are still not allowed to take open containers out of the temporary extension area. Failure to comply with these requirements will result in the immediate cancellation of the Permittees’ temporary extension, however, it will not result in the cancellation of Permittees’ licenses.

Other Covid-19 Restrictions for Bars

  • Alcohol sales and consumption must still cease between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Businesses which may otherwise remain open may continue to do so, so long as there is no sale of alcohol for onsite consumption
  • Indoor areas must remain closed. Alcohol may be served and consumed in outdoor spaces only but customers may place orders inside while maintaining social distancing practices
    • Bars not using waitstaff must designate an ordering area at the bar which allows each guest to wait 6 feet apart from other guests.
  • The number of guests must be limited to the lesser of either 100 people OR thirty percent (30%) of the facility’s stated outdoor occupancy before reductions under Executive Order 169. For spaces without a stated outdoor occupancy, no more than seven (7) guests are allowed for every one-thousand (1000) square feet of the outdoor area.
  • Groups of guests must be 6 feet apart from each other in all directions, including any entertainers or performers
  • A group of guests at the same table do not need to be members of the same household and do not need to be 6 feet apart from each other
  • Waitstaff does not have to be 6 feet apart from guests
  • All workers and guests must wear face coverings when inside of the bar
  • Bars must place markers 6 feet apart in lines at high-traffic areas for guests
  • Bars must provide alcohol-based sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) at the entrance and at other areas throughout the premises and promote frequent hand washing and sanitizing for workers and guests
  • Bars must increase disinfection practices during peak times and disinfect all shared objects (payment terminals, tables, countertops/bars, receipt trays, and reusable menus) between use

Signage, Screening, and Sanitation Requirements

Establishments, such as bars. which are open to the public must follow the “Core Signage, Screening, and Sanitation Requirements” as follows. Bars must:

  • Post the emergency maximum occupancy in a noticeable place
  • Post signage reminding guests and workers to maintain social distancing practices by staying at least (6) feet away from other people, and requesting that people who have experienced symptoms do not enter
  • Conduct daily symptom screenings of workers, using a standard interview questionnaire of symptoms before workers enter the workplace
  • Immediately isolate and remove sick workers
  • Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19)

Contact the ALE regarding your temporary extension of premises: visit:  https://www.ncdps.gov/our-organization/law-enforcement/alcohol-law-enforcement/about-ale , click “Contact ALE by Email”, and send an email with your Trade Name and complete address.

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