Bi-Partisan Group of California Lawmakers Push Bar And Restaurant Recovery Act
Posted in Legal Bites
Bi-Partisan Group of California Lawmakers Push Bar And Restaurant Recovery Act

On February 4, 2020, California State Senator Scott Weiner, who represents San Francisco and parts of San Mateo County, introduced Senate Bill 314, the Bar and Restaurant Recovery Act (the “Act”), to modernize the bar and restaurant industry and provide more flexibility to facilitate the economic recovery of the industry from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Act’s goal is to help the bar and restaurant industry bounce back from the pandemic by reducing the red tape, lengthy turnaround times and permit redundancies of the industry in order to provide more economic opportunities for these businesses.

The key components of the Act include the expansion of outdoor seating and service areas, the creation of open container zones and the streamlining of the process to acquire a liquor license. Specifically, the Act would:

  • Expedite the California’ Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s process of issuing alcohol licenses such that the process would take no longer than six months, as opposed to years;
  • Remove the limitation of the number of invitation-only events that venues with alcohol permits can hold, which would allow wineries and breweries to entertain more guests for their beverage tastings;
  • Make a new type of liquor license available for live music venues instead of the restaurant liquor licenses that are currently required, which force these venues to install a full restaurant kitchen even if they are not planning to operate a restaurant in their venues;
  • Allow two different bars to operate at the same location and allow minors to enter a bar outside of the bar’s liquor service hours such that, for example, a bar that is only open in the evenings could share its space with a café that is only open during the day;
  • Authorize cities to create “open container entertainment zones” at outdoor festivals, street fairs, and concerts where people are permitted to buy and consume alcohol; and
  • Make parking lots, sidewalks, alleys, and other untraditional outdoor spaces, which have been utilized by restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent fixtures.

The Act is a bi-partisan bill, co-sponsored by lawmakers from both parties District. If approved, the Act could go into effect as soon as September 2020. Proponents of the Act state that it would provide the restaurant industry with a much-needed lifeline.

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