California Shuts Down Breweries and Bars for All Indoor On-Premise Consumption

California Gov. Gavin Newsom today announced bars, breweries, brewpubs and pubs must cease all indoor on-premise service, as well as outdoor service, unless food is offered.

Restaurants and wineries must also stop indoor service.

“Additionally, bars, brewpubs, breweries, and pubs must close all operations both indoor and outdoor statewide, unless they are offering sit-down, outdoor dine-in meals,” an update on the state’s website said. “Alcohol can only be sold in the same transaction as a meal.”

More than a week ago, Newsom ordered indoor dining to stop in 19 counties. Today’s executive order also forces fitness centers, places of worship, offices for non-critical sectors, personal care services, hair salons, barber shops and shopping malls in counties on the state’s monitoring list to close indoor operations for three days.

The monitored counties include Colusa, Contra Costa, Fresno, Glenn, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Merced, Monterey, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tulare, Yolo, Yuba and Ventura.

The shutdown of on-premise service at breweries and brewpubs that do not serve food is an enormous blow in California, which is home to 907 craft breweries, more than any other state, according to not-for-profit trade group the Brewers Association (BA). The Golden State’s craft breweries produced 3.6 million barrels in 2019, and provided $9 billion in economic impact to the state. Couple that with wholesaler ordering resuming recently, a second shutdown poses even more issues with beer that could once again go out of code.

Although the state is permitting breweries and brewpubs that offer food to remain open for outdoor on-premise service, establishments must serve what the state defines as a “bona fide meal.” The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) defines a meal as food served in “sufficient quantity that it would constitute a main course in a multiple-course dining experience.” Offerings that do not make a “bona fide meal” include:

  • “Snacks such as pretzels, nuts, popcorn, pickles and chips;
  • Food ordinarily served as appetizers or first courses such as cheese sticks, fried calamari, chicken wings, pizza bites (as opposed to a pizza), egg rolls, pot stickers, flautas, cups of soup, and any small portion of a dish that may constitute a main course when it is not served in a fully portion or when it is intended for sharing in small portions;
  • Side dishes such as bread, rolls, french fries, onion rings, small salads (green, potato, macaroni, fruit), rice, mashed potatoes, and small portions of vegetables;
  • Reheated refrigerated or frozen entrees;
  • desserts.”

Also Monday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced a ban on indoor social gatherings of 10 people or more, and a requirement for all residents to wear masks when outside their homes and cannot maintain a six-foot distance. The indoor gathering limit applies to occasions that include “potlucks, dinner parties, birthday parties and book clubs that take place indoors,” Brown said during a news conference.

The ban does not apply to social gatherings at businesses or places of worship. Brown acknowledged that governors in other states have limited operations in the hospitality industry, but she is not at this time.

“As of right now, these businesses that are implementing and enforcing our safe rules — face coverings, physical distancing and sanitation — do not appear to be the sources of significant transmission,” Brown said. “I hope I don’t have to go the route of Texas and California and close bars and restaurants, but nothing is off the table.”

The governors of Nevada and Louisiana have also forced bars to close in an effort to stop the spread of new COVID-19 cases.

“While I had hoped to avoid going backwards on restrictions, it is obvious that it is necessary to slow the spread of infection in our state, as COVID-19 has spread to every corner, at a level higher than we have previously seen,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement on Saturday.

The statewide shutdown in Louisiana went into effect at midnight on Monday and is slated to expire on July 24. However, that could be extended.

In Nevada, Gov. Steve Sisolak shut bars in seven counties on July 10: Clark (home to Las Vegas), Elko, Humboldt, Lander, Lyon, Nye and Washoe counties.

“We know that COVID-19 can easily spread when people are congregating for long periods of time, like inside a bar,” Sisolak said on Thursday. “In states where we have seen significant spikes, such as Arizona, Texas and Florida, they have all taken actions to roll back bars.

“Recently, Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, the U.S.’s top infectious-disease expert, advised that congregating in bars poses a significant risk and is one of the most dangerous things people could do right now.”

In both states, bars that sell food can remain open for takeout or delivery service. In Nevada, restaurants, bars and taverns that offer food can serve patrons alcoholic beverages at their tables. Bars within casinos may offer waitstaff service to patrons at tables.

In Louisiana, Edwards ordered all residents older than age 8 to wear a mask. Parishes with fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 residents can opt out of the mask mandate, but only three parishes meet that requirement. Edwards also limited indoor social gatherings to 50 people. Outdoor social gatherings are limited to 50 people if attendees cannot maintain a six-foot distance from each other.

New Orleans-based Urban South Brewery announced it closed for on-site service on Monday, but would remain open daily for to-go orders.

Louisiana is home to 40 craft breweries, and Nevada has 45, according to the BA.

Edwards and Sisolak are hardly alone in reversing their states’ reopenings.

Last month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered bars closed and decreased operating capacity for restaurants. Also last month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered bars to stop selling alcohol. Bar owners in Texas and Florida have filed lawsuits against the states arguing their businesses are unfairly targeted.

Florida reported a record high 15,300 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, more than all the cases in European countries combined, according to a report on the Today Show.

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