CEB earlier reported on California’s extended alcohol regulations—even as other business sectors return to “normal”—which have continued the relaxed restrictions on bars and restaurants that were introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alongside these special allowances by the Governor’s office—aimed at promoting Californians’ safety and economic relief for restaurants—CEB also reported on proposed legislation to make permanent certain extended allowances, such as expanding outdoor dining via “parklets” (SB 314), and giving the thumbs-up to to-go cocktails (SB 389). (AB 61 also makes permanent some of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s (ABC’s) emergency measures.)

Below is an update on this legislation, plus other laws enacted during the 2021-22 legislative session affecting bars, restaurants, and Californians’ drinking and dining experiences.

SB 314: Bar and Restaurant Recovery Act

Under this bill, vestiges of COVID-19 may now include restaurant “parklets”—or at least until 2024.

Early in the pandemic, the ABC had temporarily allowed licensees to expand their “licensed footprint,” allowing on-sale consumption of alcoholic beverages for which the licensee has on-sale privileges, on property adjacent to the licensed premises and under the licensee’s control. SB 314 now gives licensees a 1-year grace period (from the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency) to apply for permanent expansion of their premises (or “expanded license areas”).

These provisions will be repealed on July 1, 2024.

The new law also streamlines California’s alcohol licensing processes in other ways, including allowing businesses to use a catering license up to 36 times at a single location.

SB 389: Cocktails To-Go

Introduced in February 2021, this bill extends to-go cocktails through Dec. 31, 2026. (See Bus. & Prof. Code, § 23401.5.)

In more technical terms, the law grants certain licensees additional “off-sale rights and privileges,” subject to special requirements, including the following:

  • To-go alcoholic beverages must be sold with a “bona fide meal”;
  • Only two (2) drinks may be sold per bona fide meal;
  • To-go mixed drinks and cocktails must not exceed 4.5 ounces of distilled spirits;
  • To-go wine must be sold only in “single-serve containers” (citing Federal Regulations); and
  • Various other requirements with respect to secure packaging, labeling, warning signage, and who may order/pick up the alcoholic beverages.

AB 61: Business Pandemic Relief

A companion bill to those above, AB 61 similarly enables expanded licensed areas, including directing local jurisdictions (if they have not already done so) to reduce the number of required parking spaces to accommodate expanded outdoor dining areas. The new law also eases the process for pop-ups to secure temporary liquor licenses.

AB 286: Food Delivery Fee Transparency

This bill promotes pricing transparency in “food delivery platforms” (UberEats, Doordash, etc.) by doing the following:

  • Requiring a food delivery platform to disclose to the customer (and the food facility) an itemized cost breakdown of each transaction (e.g., food/beverage charges, commissions, tips).
  • Making it unlawful for a food delivery platform to charge a customer any food or beverage purchase price that is higher than the price posted on the platform’s website by the restaurant/food facility at the time of the order.
  • Making it unlawful for a food delivery platform to retain any portion of amounts designated as a tip or gratuity.
  • Requiring a food delivery platform to pay any tip or gratuity for a delivery order, in its entirety, to the person delivering the food or beverage, and to pay any tip or gratuity for a pickup order, in its entirety, to the food facility.

(See Bus. & Prof. Code, §§ 22598; 22599.1; 22599.6.)

AB 1276: Single-Use Foodware Accessories and Standard Condiments

This bill prohibits restaurants (or “food facilities”) from providing any single-use foodware accessory or standard condiment (e.g., utensils, chopsticks, condiments, stirrers, cocktail sticks, etc.; see Pub. Resources Code, § 42270) to a consumer unless requested. It also prohibits these items from being bundled or packaged in a way that prohibits the consumer from taking only the item desired.

Further, restaurants/food facilities using third-party food delivery platforms must list on their menus the availability of single-use foodware accessories and standard condiments, and provide those items only when requested by the customer.

Cities and counties (or cities and counties together) have until June 1, 2022 to initiate enforcement. First and second offenses result in a notice of violation, while subsequent violations will be fined $25 per day, with a maximum penalty of $300.

AB 1200: Chemical Disclosures in Cookware and Food Packaging

Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, this bill prohibits any person from distributing, selling, or offering for sale in California any food packaging that contains regulated perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, as defined. Manufacturers must use the least toxic alternative when replacing regulated perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS in food packaging to comply with this requirement, among other requirements. (See Health & Saf. Code, § 109000.)

For further discussion of the changing alcohol regulatory landscape amid COVID-19, see CEB’s The Bars’ Bar: With Ongoing Pandemic and Changing Restrictions, Work Isn’t Drying Up for California Alcohol Lawyers.

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