– Legislation sponsored by Rep. Matthew Dowling (R-Fayette/Somerset) to help bar and restaurant owners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic has been signed into law by the governor.
“Many businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic and associated restrictions, and few more so than the bar and restaurant industry,” Dowling said. “This law will help those who made the difficult decision to close permanently, as well as those who are still struggling to survive.”
House Bill 425
was initially introduced to allow a liquor licensee whose business closes permanently to sell any remaining liquor or wine to another licensee who is qualified to sell such products. Previously, the licensee was only permitted to sell leftover product to the entity that purchased his or her liquor license.
“The goal was to help owners recover at least some of their losses,” Dowling said.
As the bill advanced through the legislative process, it was expanded to address another concern of the bar and restaurant industry, specifically the establishments’ ability to serve alcoholic beverages in outdoor seating areas. It allows the Liquor Control Board to temporarily extend the licensed premises of a liquor license holder to include certain outdoor serving areas and to remove certain restrictions on off-premises catered functions. These changes would expire on Dec. 31, 2024.
Finally, the law will allow any restaurant, eating place, retail dispenser, hotel, importing distributor and distributor license and any club or catering club license that was in safekeeping during the emergency disaster declaration, an additional year of safekeeping.
The law takes effect immediately.