Due to the threat posed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Florida Governor Ron De Santis has issued a new Executive Order that prohibits all retailers licensed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption from doing so for the 60 day emergency period commencing on March 9, 2020 and ending on May 8, 2020. These retailers may continue to sell alcoholic beverages in sealed containers for off-premises consumption.
The Executive Order also temporarily permits specially licensed restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption through May 8, 2020 so long as: (i) each sale of alcohol is accompanied by the sale of food in the same order; and (ii) each delivery of alcohol complies with the requirements of Florida’s Alcoholic Beverage Law governing the delivery and/or transportation of alcoholic beverages and the verification of the purchaser’s identity and age.
The Executive Order also authorizes licensed vendors of alcoholic beverages to request distributors to accept the return of undamaged alcoholic beverages for events canceled due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) if: (i) the request is made by June 8, 2020; (ii) the vendor and distributor keep specifically designated records of all such requested returns, as further detailed below; (iii) vendors receive a cash or credit against any outstanding amount owed to the distributor within 60 days of the date that the distributor receives the returned product; and (iv) the returned products were not initially purchased, sold, or otherwise obtained with a privilege of return in violation of Florida’s Alcoholic Beverage Law.
In order to request the return of alcoholic beverages as authorized by the Executive Order, vendors must keep records of each cancelled event that comply with Florida law and also include: (i) the event name; (ii) the date that the event was to be held; (iii) the date that the event was cancelled; (iv) the location of the event that was cancelled; and (v) the product returned to a distributor due to the cancellation.
Under the Executive Order, licensed distributors of alcoholic beverages must also keep records of all Coronavirus based alcoholic beverage return requests made by licensed retailers that conform to Florida law and include: (i) the request from the licensed vendor; (ii) the date the request was made; (iii) the identity of the licensed vendor requesting the return of the alcoholic beverages, including the licensed vendor’s business name and address; (iv) the license number of the licensed vendor requesting the return of the alcoholic beverages; (v) the product returned; and (vi) whether the vendor received cash or credit for its returned alcoholic beverages.
DABT and state and local law enforcement officers are empowered to enforce this Executive Order.