On December 8, 2021, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (“LCB”) approved New Rules to extend temporary pandemic-related licensee privileges for to-go orders and permanently amend the food service requirement for liquor licensees. The New Rules are clearly a step towards providing licensees additional flexibility to sell alcohol products in light of the ongoing pandemic.

The New Rules extend and amend endorsements for certain “to-go” products permitting licensees additional flexibility for selling to-go alcoholic beverages. First, the New Rules permit delivery by a third-party instead of only employees of the licensee. Second, the New Rules remove the obligation that breweries, wineries, and distilleries label to-go alcohol products and, for breweries and wineries, permit the sale of prefilled growlers in certain circumstances. Third, the New Rules clarify that payment for to-go wine and cocktails must be processed by a licensee’s direct employee. There are no fees for these endorsements, and they will now expire on July 1, 2023.

To further assist producers, the New Rules extend outdoor service rules to breweries, wineries, and distillers without indoor dining capacity. The New Rules also clarify that where multiple licensees share an outdoor space, each licensee must use “distinctly marked glassware or serving containers” so as to identify the source of the consumer’s beverage and such licensees must develop an “operating plan” for sharing the outdoor space.

Finally, the New Rules permanently change the food service obligations for licensees. Licensees are now only required to serve four “complete meals,” rather than eight, and the definition of “complete meal” has been relaxed to give licensees more options that still satisfy the requirement.

The New Rules will become effective January 8, 2022. There are of course nuances to the New Rules, and licensees should speak with an attorney if they have any questions about how the New Rules may impact their businesses.