Major long-term changes are in the works for alcohol to-go sales. As a response to COVID-19, Texas Governor Greg Abbott suspended regulations to permit the sale of alcohol directly to consumers for off-premises consumption. In April, the Texas Legislature passed a bill (House Bill 1024) that would make the temporary suspension permanent. This is an exciting change for both the restaurant industry and patrons.
Once Governor Abbott signs the new law into effect, business owners MUST HAVE the two permits required to continue this option. Upon signing the alcohol to-go legislation into law, it will take effect immediately and most of the governor’s COVID-19 waivers that allowed alcohol to go sales will be revoked.
Retailer eligibility to offer consumer pickup or delivery to consumers:
- Hold a Mixed Beverage Permit (MB) and a Food and Beverage Certificate (FB) for the permitted premises;
- Hold a Private Club Registration Permit (N) and a Food and Beverage Certificate (FB) for the permitted premises.
General authority — Eligible Mixed Beverage (MB) and Private Club (N) permit holders may:
- Allow customers to pick up alcohol with food orders,
- Deliver alcohol with food orders to customers,
- Use third parties acting as an agent of the MB or N to make deliveries,
- Use independent contractors holding a Consumer Delivery Permit (CD) to make deliveries on their behalf.
Restrictions on what may be picked up or delivered — Eligible MB and N permittees may allow pickup or delivery of any number of malt beverages (defined as beer and ale prior to Sept. 1, 2021), wines and/or distilled spirits ONLY WHEN:
- The alcohol is accompanied by a food order that was prepared on the business’s premises; and
Note: There is no required food-to-alcohol ratio.
- Malt beverages and wine are in their original container sealed by the manufacturer or in a tamper-proof container that is sealed by the permit holder and clearly labeled with the permit holder’s business name and the words “alcoholic beverage” (example: growlers of ale)
- Distilled spirits are in an original single-serving container sealed by the manufacturer and not larger than 375 milliliters (example: cocktail kit); or
- Distilled spirits are mixed with other beverages or garnishes and stored in a tamper-proof container clearly labeled with the permit holder’s business name and the words “alcoholic beverage” (example: in-house mixed margarita).
- “Tamperproof container” is defined as a “container that once sealed, clearly shows whether it has been opened. The term includes a cup or similar container that is placed into a bag that has been sealed with a zip tie or staple or sealed with shrink wrap or a similar seal.”
Limits on where alcohol may be delivered — Deliveries may only be made to a location:
- Where the sale of that type of alcohol is legal; and
- Within the county where the business is located, or up to 2 miles beyond the city limits in which the business is located if that city crosses a county line.
Note: Permittees may NOT deliver alcohol to another licensed or permitted location.
Requirements for completing the customer pick up or delivery to the customer:
- Recipients must not be intoxicated;
- Recipients must present valid proof of their identity that confirms they are at least 21 years old before the alcoholic beverage is handed over to the recipient; and
- Recipients must either sign a receipt (may be electronically signed) acknowledging the pickup/delivery, or the individual representing the permitted business must acknowledge the completion of the pickup or delivery through a software application.
Note: Alcoholic beverages picked up or delivered under this authority may not be transported in the passenger area of a motor vehicle.