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ABRA GUIDANCE | COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020

March 17, 2020


Tuesday, March 17, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law the COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020.

Included is a provision that allows ABC-licensed restaurants and taverns to sell beer, wine, and spirits in closed containers for carry-out and/or delivery to DC residences in conjunction with the purchase of one or more prepared food items.

Before an eligible restaurant or tavern may sell beer, wine, and spirits in closed containers for carry-out and delivery, they must register with ABRA — no exceptions. Registration can be completed in five (5) minutes or less.

Required information includes:

  • Licensee First Name
  • Licensee Last Name
  • Establishment Name
  • License Number
  • License Class
  • Street Address
  • Postal Code
  • Quadrant

Once a form has been submitted, the program registrant will receive a confirmation email within minutes. No further action is required and the ABC-licensed restaurant or tavern can commence selling beer, wine, and spirits in closed containers for carry-out and/or delivery with prepared food immediately after receiving the confirmation email.

If no confirmation email is received, the licensee should contact ABRA’s licensing division at (202) 442-4423.

There is no fee to register or participate.


Anticipating questions, we are providing the below guidance.

1. What are the hours that beer, wine, and spirits can be sold for carry-out and delivery with prepared food?
Daily between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and midnight.

2. What is classified as beer, wine, and spirits?
Classification of common products is included in our Quick Guide.

3. Do delivery persons need to verify the age of patrons ordering beer, wine, and spirits?
Yes. The minimum age to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages in DC is 21 years of age. All personnel including delivery persons must make a reasonable effort to verify the age and identity of those who attempt to purchase wine, beer, or spirits from them. If a patron cannot produce a government issued photo ID that states they are 21 years or older, no alcoholic beverages may be given.

For transparency purposes and to expedite service, we recommend that age and identify verification requirements and any related refund policy be included on your website, social channels, and order confirmation autoresponders, and during phone sales.

4. Will I be issued a new license with a special endorsement?
Not at this time. Licensees that register online will receive an email confirming their registration within minutes of submitting their form. If the email confirmation is not received, please contact the licensing division at (202) 442-4423.

5. Does my delivery person need to carry “proof” that they can deliver beer, wine, and spirits?
No. They only need to carry a government-issued photo ID that verifies that they are 18 years of age or older—the minimum age needed to be allowed to deliver alcoholic beverages.

6. How will ABRA enforce the emergency Act?
There have been no changes to how ABRA enforces the District’s ABC laws. The enforcement team maintains daily around the clock coverage. Licensees are subject to fines and license suspension and/or revocation for violations.

Persons that suspect that an ABC-licensed or non-licensed establishment is violating ABC laws, may submit an anonymous complaint 24/7 online, phone, or email to

7. Is there a maximum amount of beer, wine, and spirits that can be sold per transaction?

8. Can I only deliver beer, wine, and spirits to DC residences?
Yes. Alcohol delivery service may only be to residences located in DC.

9. Does beer, wine, and spirits need to be packaged or sealed in a specific manner?
All alcoholic products must be provided in closed containers. Licensees are not required to attach any special seals or labels to packaging at this time.

10. Are growlers and crowlers of beer and wine considered closed containers?
Yes. Provided that they are sealed at the restaurant or tavern for off-premises consumption prior to being delivered or provided to the customer as part of its carry-out order. Growlers and crowlers of spirits are not permitted under District law.

11. What qualifies as one (1) prepared food item?
Prepared food is considered food that has been assembled such as a sandwich, salad, smoothie, etc. Pre-packaged items such as chips can be ordered in addition to prepared food but do not satisfy the prepared food requirement.

Additional questions can be referred to ABRA’s licensing division, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at (202) 442-4423.

We will continue to provide updates on our website and distribute guidance via email and on our social channels. We encourage you to share any and all information broadly.


Fred Moosally
Director, ABRA