Outdoor refreshment area bills sent to conference

February 25, 2021

Two bills authorizing localities to create outdoor refreshment areas have been sent to conference after the House and Senate failed to reach a consensus on the measures.

HB 2266 (Ayala) and SB 1472 (Dunnavant) would form a framework that would allow localities to establish up to three outdoor refreshment areas, or areas where people can purchase, drink, and openly carry alcohol that they buy within the area (including on sidewalks and on the premises of businesses who themselves do not have a license to sell alcohol).  In simpler terms, these bills authorize local governments to create up to three “open-container” districts in their localities.

Disagreements remain between the House and Senate over the licensing requirements for these areas.  As such, the bills have now been sent to conference, where the patrons, joined by Delegates Bulova and Brewer and Senators McPike and Mason, will continue to work on the legislation in hopes of developing a compromise bill.

HB 2266 and SB 1472 were just two of many bills introduced this session proposing long-term changes to Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) laws and regulations.  In fact, there were two other bills proposed in the House specifically dealing with this same topic – HB 2051 (Bourne) was incorporated into HB 2266, while HB 1838 (Wampler) was left in committee.  These bills, like many of the alcohol-related bills, were born out of the changes that ABC has already enacted to assist businesses trying to survive the ongoing economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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