New ABC laws go into effect July 1
One measure would allow outdoor alcohol consumption in designated local districts
Starting July 1, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) will begin enforcing new laws passed by the Virginia General Assembly during its 2021 session, including allowing localities to create special large outdoor entertainment districts where consumption of alcohol would be allowed.
Other measures passed by the Assembly include allowing restaurants to continue selling cocktails to go, a holdover from the pandemic. Virginia ABC is conducting a study ordered by the General Assembly on the issue of allowing long-term continuance of to-go alcoholic mixed drinks. More than 40 stakeholders are participating in the study.
Another bill will allow wine and beer to continue to be delivered without a delivery permit until Jan.1, 2022.
Nonprofit groups will be allowed to conduct virtual fundraising events, including the sale and shipment of wine in closed containers.
Two bills authorize the ABC, after the adoption of a local ordinance, to work with localities to create areas where consumption of alcohol will be allowed in areas such as entertainment or walking districts. In these locations, the frequency and duration of special events will be able to be increased under “designated outdoor refreshment area” licenses. Patrons will be allowed to consume drinks outside the establishments within the designated outdoor area, which could consist of several blocks.
Beginning Jan. 1, the ABC will stop selling low-alcohol beverages (spirits-based drinks that are 7.5% or less of alcohol by volume) in its stores, unless manufactured by a Virginia distillery.
The General Assembly also passed a bill that a local county or city attorney, commonwealth’s attorney and the attorney general can take enforcement actions against unlawful games of skill. This legislation comes after Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania banned skill machines from the city in 2019, which resulted in a lawsuit from Queen of Virginia, the machines’ operator, that was ultimately dropped.