How can liquor licensees sell and deliver alcohol during the COVID-19 shutdown?
Last updated April 2, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to move across New Jersey, Governor Murphy has taken measures to limit social interaction to slow down the spread of the virus.
If you are a liquor licensee and are wondering about what you can and cannot do, you are not alone.
All restaurants and bars with plenary retail consumption licenses are permitted to offer food and alcohol for delivery and/or take-out services. If alcoholic beverages are sold, all sales must be limited to original containers sold from the principal public barroom. Plenary retail consumption licensees may sell and deliver wine, beer or spirits. However, the sale must take place on the licensed premises (either in person or over the phone), and no cash or credit card transaction may take place at delivery at the customer’s door. Also, alcohol must be delivered to a person who is 21 or over.
In addition, all alcoholic beverages sold by limited brewery licensees must be in original containers and must be delivered to customers or picked up at the licensed premises. Club licensees (non-profit organizations) are not permitted to sell package goods, and therefore may not deliver or sell alcoholic beverages for pick up or delivery. Craft distilleries are not permitted to make home deliveries, as that conduct is expressly prohibited by statute.
However, in order for any licensee to make deliveries to customers, a Transit Insignia is needed for every vehicle used to deliver alcoholic beverages. To obtain a Transit Insignia, apply online on the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s (ABC) website by accessing the NJ ABC POSSE System here (once you log into the POSSE portal, follow the prompts and select “Permits,” “Apply for Permit” and then “Transit Insignia”). The fee per vehicle is $50.
Be advised that in order to receive a Transit Insignia, the vehicle used for delivery must be owned or leased by the licensee. The Transit Insignia must be affixed to the driver’s side front bumper of the delivery vehicle.
During this time, processing by the ABC may take longer than usual. Therefore, while the Transit Insignia is being processed by the ABC, and before you receive it in the mail, you may print your receipt for the Transit Insignia from the POSSE system and display it in the window of the vehicle in which you are transporting alcohol.
Finally, all retail liquor licensees (restaurants/bars/liquor stores) must still follow all other local municipal and state requirements regarding sales.
March 30, 2020 ABC Notices
On March 30, 2020, the ABC issued two notices providing guidance to interested parties.
The first, SR 2020-01, is a Special Ruling allowing Limited (Craft) Breweries to engage in home delivery. This Ruling modifies the Acting Director’s May, 2019 Special Ruling that barred Limited Breweries from delivering beer to consumers, and authorizes Limited Brewery licensees to deliver their products in original sealed containers directly to consumer’s homes. Deliveries must be made in vehicles which have a transit insignia permit, and all sales must take place on the premises of the Limited Brewery either over the phone or electronically by credit card.
The second, AN 2020-03, is an Advisory that clarifies a number of topics relating to the Governor’s Executive Orders on some additional issues confronting the industry, and further clarifies what the holders of retail alcoholic beverage licenses can and cannot do during the COVID-19 crisis.
CSG is here to help you through this difficult time; we urge everyone to follow the advice of medical experts and professionals.
Please contact the author listed below if you have any questions.
For additional information pertaining to the coronavirus outbreak, please visit CSG's COVID-19 Resource Center.