Dozens of bars and restaurants across New York have lost their liquor licenses since the year began. In a majority of these cases, the establishments flouted recently stipulated COVID-19 guidelines for businesses in the entertainment and service industry. They are now facing possible permanent license revocations or fines of up to $10,000.
Normally, the State Liquor Authority (SLA) can take away your license for violating well-known rules by overserving, selling to underage persons, serving in unauthorized places, and time, among other reasons.
But this is a different time, and more regulations have been enforced to reduce the number of coronavirus infections. As such, establishments found not complying with the guidelines suggest negligence because they are endangering the lives of other people.
Learn some of the reasons liquor licenses are being taken during COVID, and how you can protect your establishment.
When the pandemic began, bars and restaurants had to rapidly change how they do business. The new laws stated that bars could no longer have revelers drinking inside the premises, and would only sell alcohol to take-away customers for intake at home.
This is aimed at reducing the mingling that occurs in entertainment spots, as a measure of preventing the virus from spreading. However, some bars remained open and even held parties with large crowds.
Employees Not Maintaining Social Distance or Wearing Masks
In the wake of COVID-19, SLA had to improvise additional alcohol laws meant to manage the spread of the virus. One of WHO’s guidelines is wearing a mask in situations where social distancing is impossible to maintain. Bars and restaurants are ideal examples of such settings.
If your members of staff are serving customers without their masks on, SLA can take away your liquor license on the basis of endangering the lives of customers and other employees.
Among the establishments breaking rules, there were several call-ins reporting disorderly conduct. This is not a Corona virus-specific guideline but existed even before, to prevent violent acts in bars and restaurants.
Disorderly conduct includes behavior such as nudity, illegal gambling, bar brawls, and other acts of violence. An entertainment establishment is at risk of losing their license when disorderly conduct occurs because as the owner, you are responsible for your patrons’ actions in the bar.
Establishments that Could Not Keep Up with License Payments
The number of liquor licenses is usually limited. Sometimes, the acquisition occurs through a new party buying from existing license owners. With such a situation, it goes without saying that there are parties who set up payment arrangements to be completed over time.
Bar and restaurant owners who had just purchased their licenses had to grapple with the sudden loss of revenue. While some lenders are willing to modify such arrangements, other new owners were not so lucky.
If you are facing a possible loss of your financed liquor license, consider seeking legal counsel from a NY liquor license attorney to advise you on the next steps.
Operating Past the Authorized Time and Venues
The state has guidelines on what days and time bars and restaurants can operate. Additionally, there are some areas, even within the premises, that alcohol should not be sold or partaken.
Due to the social distancing guidelines, some restaurants found themselves with limited space and the number of guests they can serve in one sitting. Others simply chose to disobey the rules by selling on the streets and in parking lots.
The stay-at-home orders also saw a sharp increase in alcohol consumption across the country. Some establishments were tempted to stay open a little past the stipulated times, resulting in license suspension.