VIRGINIA (WAVY) — As Virginia enters phase 1 of reopening and businesses are allowed to open for outdoor dining, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority is looking to help businesses in that process.

The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority is expanding opportunities for ABC-licensed businesses to serve alcohol outside their establishments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virginia ABC has created an expedited approval process for outside dining areas as some businesses consider expanding their outdoor dining areas. The process allows the temporary expansion of dining areas only while the governor’s executive orders 61 and 62 are in effect.

Gov. Ralph Northam’s Executive Order 61 — which starts the phase 1 reopening process — allows restaurants to now operate with delivery, take-out, and outdoor dining and beverage services only. Occupancy at those restaurants must be at 50-percent capacity.

Executive Order 62 exempts Northern Virginia from the state’s reopening process.

The Virginia ABC’s new expedited process comes with a few stipulations:

  • The locality where the business resides must also approve the use of the outside dining area in writing.
  • The expanded outdoor dining area doesn’t necessarily need to be covered under the ABC licensee’s lease, but if not, the licensee must get written permission from the owner of the property to have exclusive control over the proposed dining area. The area must be contiguous to the original dining area, or at least within 100 feet of the leased premises.
  • The licensee needs to provide a diagram of the expanded area to the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority.
  • The area may only operate from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • There cannot be entertainment in the temporary area.
  • Drink and food prep cannot occur in the temporary area.
  • Businesses cannot share the same temporary area.
  • Adequate tables and chairs must be available to patrons.

The Virginia ABC’s guidance comes just one day after Virginia Beach officials briefed City Council on their plans to safely reopen the beaches and Oceanfront businesses.

Those plans include possibly expanding restaurants’ ability to serve food and drink on sidewalks, in parking lots and on the boardwalk.

City Council is set to hear more about those plans during a meeting Thursday.

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