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How the Ohio Liquor Control Commission’s Emergency Rule Clarifies Permissible Alcohol Take-Out and Delivery Sales

Graham A. Bluhm
4/14/20

take out neon sign   It has been a month since Ohio restaurants and bars were ordered to close their doors to in-house patrons. All food, liquor, beer and wine sales were restricted to take-out and delivery only. As establishments continue to adjust to this new way of business, the Ohio Liquor Control Commission (the Commission) has issued an emergency rule that clarifies what types of alcohol sales are permissible for liquor permit holders.

   The emergency rule, passed by the Commission on April 7, 2020, in accordance with Governor DeWine’s Executive Order 2020-10D, allows all establishments with existing, on-premises general consumption liquor permit privileges to sell and deliver beer, wine, mixed beverages or spirituous liquor by the individual drink for off-premises consumption. Up to two drinks can be purchased per meal. They must be served in a closed container, and a food order must be placed in conjunction with the drink order. Drinks cannot contain more than two ounces of spirituous liquor per container. Delivery of the sealed drinks may be done by the permit holder or its employees. Other requirements of the emergency rule include:

   Of related importance, the Ohio Department of Health has restricted the sale of spirituous liquor (over 42 proof) in some counties to consumers who are not Ohio residents. While the sale of beer, wine and prepackaged mixed beverages to consumers who are not Ohio residents is permitted, the sale of spirituous liquor to nonresidents is prohibited in the following counties according to the April 13, 2020 order: Ashtabula, Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson and Belmont. Individuals that wish to purchase spirituous liquor in those counties must have a valid Ohio photo identification (ID) or a valid military photo ID for a person in active duty status. Exceptions are available for consumers with a non-Ohio ID who produce additional documentation acceptable to the Department of Health which includes: mail with the person’s name and Ohio address on it; a bill with the person’s name and Ohio address on it; or a letter from an employer placing the person in Ohio as an essential employee.

   In addition, the emergency rule allows private clubs that have been issued a D-4 liquor permit to sell and deliver drinks to their members for off-premises consumption. H-class permit holders transporting alcohol beverage products with a license issued by the Public Utilities Commission may deliver such products but cannot sell them.

   In a news release, Governor DeWine also announced that breweries may now sell beer and wine that are not their own without food purchase.  However, a food purchase is still required for the sale of high-proof liquor.

   The emergency rule will remain in effect for 120 days unless rescinded earlier by the Commission.

   Should you have any questions regarding the emergency rule, please contact Mr. Bluhm.

   Anna L. Crisp, a law clerk with Eastman & Smith who is finishing her third year at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, contributed to this article.

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Disclaimers:

At the date of publication the above information was correct.  It is quite possible the information above has changed as COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation. 

The article in this publication has been prepared by Eastman & Smith Ltd. for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney/client relationship.