This morning, we co-hosted a webinar with the WA Hospitality Association and WA Wine Institute on the newly released Open Air Guidelines for Phase 1 dining. Representatives from the Department of Health, Liquor & Cannabis Board, Labor & Industries, and Office of Governor Inslee provided an overview of the new guidelines and discussed how businesses can comply.
It was an extremely informative session. For those of you who were not able to attend live, you can view the webinar here.
Here are some key takeaways that address the top questions we’ve been getting from members.
Open Air Option 1:
- Per DOH, the size of the opening on the permeable wall does not matter. What they are looking for is that the opening is providing sufficient fresh airflow within the space so that CO2 levels do not exceed 450ppm seating areas.
- Per the LCB, there is no approval required for spaces that have already been licensed through the LCB (i.e. your taproom and previously approved outdoor structures), so long as you meet the requirements regarding the wall opening/s and you are monitoring CO2 levels. If you are adding structures that have not been previously approved by the LCB, you must submit an alterations request.
A big thank you to DOH, LCB, L&I, and the Governor’s office for working with us to develop these new, safe, dining options and for taking the time to participate in today’s webinar. We hope this gives you the information needed to get your open air spaces into compliance and ready for guests!
This week, new open air guidance for eating and drinking establishments was released. The new guidance outlines four alternatives to indoor dining and the compliance criteria for each. Our friends at the WA Hospitality Association have put together a tool-kit for businesses looking to add open air dining, found here.
Note: we have received many comments from members regarding the 450ppm CO2 threshold for Open Air concept 1. We are aware and have passed along concerns that this standard is very difficult to meet in some areas of the state, where outside air often exceeds those levels. We understand there is a fix underway and will be sure to let you know when this issue is addressed.
The SBA is accepting PPP loan applications through smaller lenders beginning today, January 15th. Applications through all participating lenders will be accepted beginning January 19th.
Earlier this week, we hosted a PPP loan Q&A with Allied Member, Baker Tilly. During the session, Baker Tilly share information about their loan application portal. Most breweries submitting applications through the Baker Tilly portal would not be subject to any fees. For more information, visit this link.
We’ve been getting a lot of questions about where WA brewery employees fall on the state vaccination schedule. We have reached out to the state Department of Health for clarity. They are looking into it for us and we should have additional information for our members as early as next week.
We have been working with the Governor’s office, Department of Health, Labor & Industries, Liquor & Cannabis Board, and other hospitality industry groups to develop updated guidance for “Open Air and Outdoor Seating Requirements” for eating and drinking establishments.
These guidelines are effective now and intended to provide alternatives to indoor dining. The updated document outlines four options for breweries and other eating and drinking establishments to offer customers an open air dining experience and applies to both permanent and temporary structures. Breweries may utilize any combination of these options, so long as each dining area is in compliance with the guidance.
We strongly recommend that you check with the LCB and/or your local health jurisdiction before making investments in renovations or changes to your space.
While the new guidelines largely do not impact outdoor tenting and other temporary structures that are currently in compliance, there may be some instances where operators need to make slight modifications to current tent set-ups. The most common adjustment would require the installation of a C02 monitor in a tent or structure where there are two open walls that are adjacent.
You can find the updated guidelines here. Pay careful attention to the diagrams. They will be extremely helpful as you plan your open air spaces and will act as a guide for the approval and enforcement of these spaces.
We are working to put together a webinar soon to cover the guidelines with state agencies and answer questions. In the meantime, please submit any questions you have via this form and we will work to get answers for a FAQ sheet for all breweries.
While not perfect, we are very pleased to have more flexibility to offer safe, fresh air dining during the current indoor dining ban and appreciate the Governor’s office and state agencies taking our input into consideration as these guidelines were developed.
Here’s a helpful resource from our friends at the WA Hospitality Association, who we worked closely with on the new guidelines: WA Hospitality Association – Toolkit: How to set up open air/outdoor seating
Governor Inslee announced the framework for a new reopening plan, “Healthy Washington – Road to Recovery.” Beginning on January 11th, the state will follow a regional phased reopening plan, rather than the county by county approach in the previous Safe Start plan. In addition to moving to a regional approach, there are changes to the criteria required to advance to Phase 2 and Phase 2 occupancy levels. Phase 3 and Phase 4 details have yet to be announced.
Here’s an overview of the new plan and what it means for breweries.
- Current restrictions will remain in place (including the ban on indoor dining)
- All regions begin in Phase 1
- Easing of some restrictions, including allowing indoor dining at 25%
- Food menu requirement for indoor seating lifted for breweries that allow minors on-premise (bars now defined as 21+ establishments with no food)
Phase 3: Not Yet Announced
Phase 4: Not Yet Announced
The state will be divided into 8 regions for purposes of reopenings, with regions drawn to reflect the healthcare system needs across the state. The regions are as follows:
- Puget Sound Region (King, Snohomish, Pierce counties)
- East Region (Adams, Asotin, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Whitman counties)
- North Region (Island, San Juan, Skagit, Whatcom counties)
- North Central Region (Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan counties)
- Northwest Region (Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason counties)
- South Central Region (Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Kittitas, Walla Walla, Yakima counties)
- Southwest Region (Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Wahkiakum, Skamania counties)
- West Region (Grays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific, Thurston counties)
Every Friday, the state Department of Health will evaluate metrics in your region to determine if your region meets the criteria to move to the next phase. If your region’s numbers meet the criteria for advancement, your region will move to the next phase that Monday. The state will be looking at a region’s numbers over the past 14 days.
- Your region’s current numbers
- 10% decrease trend in case rates
- 10% decrease in COVID hospital admissions
- ICU occupancy less than 90% (COVID and non-COVID patients)
- Test positivity less than 10%
**Regions that fail to meet three of the above metrics will be moved back to Phase 1.
Phase 3: Not yet announced
Phase 4: Not yet announced
Session convenes on Monday, January 11th. Legislators need to hear how the current restrictions are impacting WA craft breweries. We’ve partnered with the WA Hospitality Association on an effort to collect your stories and share them with legislators ahead of Session.
Please take a minute to fill out the form found here.
We’ll be following up with additional info as we learn more.
12/30/2020 – Indoor Dining Ban Extended Through January 11th: Governor Inslee announced a one-week extension of the current “Stay Safe-Stay Healthy” proclamation that includes a ban on indoor dining. No other changes were made to the current order, aside from the expiration date, which is now January 11th. Current restrictions can be found here and outdoor seating requirements, here.
The Governor also indicated that an updated reopening plan is currently being developed to “provide a pathway for businesses and workers impacted by the order to reopen safely.” The updated plan will be released next week. Our guild has been in active talks with those developing the reopening plan, communicating breweries’ needs, and looking for solutions that will allow you to reopen safely. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more about what the plan will include.
12/21/2020 – Congress Agrees on COVID Relief Package, Makes Current Reduced Excise Tax Rates Permanent:
Some great news out of DC to start this week: The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) is included in the year-end omnibus and COVID relief package agreement that is poised to clear congress and be signed into law, imminently.
With the pending passage of this legislation, the current reduced federal beer excise tax rates will be made permanent! Not only will brewers not see federal excise tax rates increase by 100% at the beginning of 2021, small and independent brewers will now have peace of mind that the recalibrated rates are permanent and not subject to yearly renewal efforts.
Thank you to everyone out there who has contributed to this effort by engaging your members of congress, responding to our many calls to action, and to those of you who have traveled to DC over the years in efforts to get this important tax reform for small brewers!
We want to send a big thank you and acknowledgment to the Brewers Association for all of their excellent work and leadership securing tax relief for our nation’s brewers. If you are not yet a member, we encourage you join now, as their work is more critical than ever.
Here’s a full federal update, including important information on the agreed upon COVID relief package, from Brewers Association Federal Affairs Director, Katie Marisic.
We will continue to closely monitor movement toward passage in DC and provide any new info as it becomes available.
12/8/2020 –Current COVID-19 Restrictions Extended Through January 4th – What We’re Doing, How You Can Help, and Brewery Resources:
Today, Governor Inslee announced the extension of current operating restrictions for breweries, restaurants, bars, wineries, distilleries, and other impacted industries. The current restrictions on indoor dining will remain in effect for another three weeks. There are no changes to the current restrictions beyond the extension of the expiration date. Current restrictions can be found here and outdoor seating requirements, here.
We know this comes at a terrible time of year for our brewery member owners and employees. Our craft brewing industry – and the hospitality industry as a whole – needs immediate relief. Here’s what we’re doing and how you can help.
WA Department of Commerce Grants – Another $50 Million Allocated: We have been working closely with the Governor’s office and the WA Department of Commerce to ensure that breweries are included and prioritized in eligibility for small business COVID-19 relief grants. During today’s Governor’s press conference, Commerce Director Lisa Brown announced an addition $50 million in grants – for a total of $100 million – will be made available to industries hit the hardest, including breweries. If you have not already applied, you’ll want to get your app in before December 11. Apply here.
Contact Your State Legislators: The 2021 Legislative Session is set to convene January 11th and we are working diligently to lay the groundwork for economic and regulatory relief for our industry and to defend our industry from any proposals that would further economically harm small WA breweries.
We are partnering with the WA Hospitality Association to collect your stories to share with legislators in our efforts to secure relief. Click here to share your story with your state legislators and ensure WA breweries are not left behind in the 2021 Legislative Session. The link will take you to options for brewery owners/operators, employees, and customers- please share far and wide to get our stories out!
Federal Response: Our guild is working under the lead of the Brewers Association to call on Congress to act immediately to provide a variety of relief measures for small and independent craft breweries. We are actively advocating for federal coronavirus relief, including Payroll Protection Program forgivable loans, the RESTAURANTS Act (breweries are included in the legislation), tax credits for unmerchantable beer, and more.
We’re also urgently calling on Congress to extend or make permanent the current federal beer excise tax rate, which is set to expire on December 31st. If Congress does not act swiftly, breweries could see their federal excises tax rate increase 100% as early as January. You can urge your members of congress to take action by completing this easy form.
Guild COVID-19 Resources for Brewery Owners and Employees: These are extremely challenging times for our member brewery owners and employees. We are here to advocate for you and support you. This WBG COVID-19 Resource Page contains information on deliveries, outdoor service, unemployment, mental health, hospitality employee relief funds, and more.
12/2/2020 – Working WA Small Business Grant Portal for Applications – Apply before December 11, 2020
10/30/2020 – The WA Department of Health released a document detailing ventilation and air quality best practices for reducing the transmission of COVID-19. To learn more about ways you can improve ventilation and air quality at your brewery, click here.
10/13/2020 – Today, Governor Inslee announced that the remaining 5 counties currently in Modified Phase 1 (Chelan, Douglas, Yakima, Benton, and Franklin) will move to Phase 2, effective immediately.
The complete and most current Safe Start guidance for restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, and taverns can be found here.
9/11/2020 – Special Occasion License/Virtual Non-Profit Auctions Compliance: You may be seeing an increase in donation requests, as non-profits get creative with fundraising and move more and more to virtual events. Many non-profits may not be aware that a Special Occasion License is still needed to sell or auction alcohol – even for virtual events. The LCB has released these helpful guidelines for virtual auctions vs online auctions.
8/20/2020 – Important: Updated Food Menu Guidance to Resume Indoor Seating at Breweries, here. This week, the LCB released new guidelines for food menu requirements for indoor service at breweries. In addition to the menu requirements, all other Safe Start restaurant industry guidelines apply. You will find the full industry guidance, here.
7/17/2020 – Yakima/Benton/Franklin County Update
6/5/2020 – WA Safe Start Plan Overview
May 11, 2020 – Phase 2 Guidance for Brewery/Restaurant/Tavern Reopenings: Phase 2 includes all breweries, regardless of license type. In order to reopen in Phase 2, businesses must comply with the outlined requirements. A link to Phase 2 requirements and a memo outlining what types of businesses are included can be found here.
4/23/2020 – Washington’s Recovery Plan information, here. Breweries, deemed essential services under the order, may continue the following operations as approved under the original order:
- Breweries may produce and distribute beer
- Breweries may make beer to-go sales, including growlers, curbside sales and deliveries. For curbside sales and deliveries, please complete and submit a “Temporary Activities Form” to the WSLCB. The form can be found here, under curbside and delivery service.
- No consumption can take place on a brewery premise, inside or outside
- Breweries must implement rules and procedures to help facilitate social distancing of 6 feet
Many monthly and quarterly employer tax filings and/or payments have been deferred. Here’s a quick round-up of the latest status on tax filings.
WA DOR Taxes: Certain payments have been deferred. You are still required to file, even if you don’t pay. More info found here.
WA Beer Excise Tax (WSLCB): Penalties for late payments waived through May 4th (retroactive to end of February). You’ll still need to file. Info here.
Federal Beer Excise Tax (TTB): 90-day postponement for filings and payment expires on July 1, 2020. More info here.
Quarterly Unemployment Taxes (ESD): Unemployment taxes and reports have not been deferred and must be filed and paid, however, you can request a penalty waiver here if you are unable to pay.
Worker Compensation Premium (L&I): L&I is now offering a L&I Tax Grace Period for premium payments, along with payment plans for employers facing financial difficulties during the pandemic. Under this new offer, employers can request for their payment to be deferred for up to 90 days, or can ask for a 90-day payment plan. Either way, the delayed payments will be penalty- and interest-free. Payments for the first quarter of 2020 are due no later than April 30. To be eligible for this coronavirus-related assistance, employers must contact their L&I account manager if they know they won’t be able to make their quarterly premium payment. Account managers are available by phone at 360-902-4817. Click here for more info and filing links.
Best Practices for Implementing Social Distancing here.
Personal Protective Equipment – How you can help
Direct Shipping via common carrier (UPS, FedEx) to WA Consumers: WA breweries can apply for “internet sales” privileges and once approved, can ship beer to consumers residing in WA State. Fill out the attached Added Activities form LCB, requesting Internet Sales privileges. Orders must comply with the rules found here.
Extending Outside Service and/or Changing Floor Plans to comply with Phase 2 occupancy and social distancing requirements: If you are temporarily altering your floor plan to accommodate the 6 foot rule (moving tables around, etc) you do not need to get approval from the LCB. If you are looking to extend into new outdoor spaces (sidewalks, parking lots, adjacent picnic areas), you need to submit a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LCB Webinar Recap & Link: On 5/19/2020, WBG co-hosted a Phase 2 Reopenings webinar with the WA Hospitality Association and WA Wine Institute, featuring speakers from the Liquor & Cannabis Board. Chief of Enforcement, Justin Nordhorn, and Director of Licensing, Becky Smith, covered a wide range of topics including bar seating, changes to floor plans, extending outdoor seating, curbside orders and deliveries, what to do with expired beer, and more. You can watch the full webinar, here.
Keg Registrations – No Longer Required for Breweries – Per LCB: With the passage of HB 2412, Domestic breweries licensed under RCW 66.24.240 and microbreweries licensed under RCW 66.24.244 are not subject to RCW 66.28.200 when selling or offering for sale kegs or other containers containing four gallons or more of malt liquor of the licensee’s own production, or when selling, offering for sale, or leasing kegs or other containers that will hold four gallons or more of liquid. This requirement is not in effect yet, but due to the impacts of COVID-19 LCB will not enforce this during the period before the official effective date of HB 2412, which is June 11, 2020.
The City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development has been allocated $1.5 million to help qualifying small businesses located in Seattle with 5 employees or less
Amazon has created a $5 million Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund to help small companies located within a few blocks of its Seattle headquarters
PPP Loans– SBA Begins Accepting Some Applications on 1/15/2021: The SBA is accepting PPP loan applications through smaller lenders beginning today, January 15th. Applications through all participating lenders will be accepted beginning January 19th. Earlier this week, we hosted a PPP loan Q&A with Allied Member, Baker Tilly. During the session, Baker Tilly share information about their loan application portal. Most breweries submitting applications through the Baker Tilly portal would not be subject to any fees. For more information, visit this link.
Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act Signed into Law: 6/3/2020 – The legislation addresses many concerns brought forward by our industry and will provide flexibility for small businesses by: Easing loan forgiveness terms by lowering the payroll spend requirements from 75% to 60%. Extending the PPP covered period from the current June 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020. Extending the forgiveness period (currently 8 weeks) to the earlier of: (1) 24 weeks after the origination of the loan or (2) December 31, 2020. Extending the safe harbor deadline to rehire employees and restore pay to avoid reductions in forgiveness from the current June 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020. For more information on the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, visit the Brewers Association (BA) website, here.
SBA Releases New Guidance for Applying for PPP Loan Forgiveness: 5/22/2020 – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released additional PPP guidance this week in the form of the Loan Forgiveness Application, which includes some key definitions and instructions for loan forgiveness. Those of you who have received loans, can find more info here.
Congress Approves Additional PPP Funding: 4/23/2020 – The House passed another coronavirus package that includes additional funding for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program, as well as $75 billion for hospitals and disease testing. The PPP will receive an additional $310 billion, with $60 billion specifically earmarked for small lenders. The parameters for the program have not changed and can be found here. It is unclear when applications will be reopened. We are monitoring closely and will provide updates as they come. An alternative option for some businesses might be the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program. Here’s an article that provides a good overview of both programs.
SBA Assistance for Breweries During the COVID-19 Crisis: What’s Available, webinar hosted by the Brewers Association
Dept of Employment Security emergency rules and a Q&A sheet for employers and employees impacted by the coronavirus
Employment Security Dept & Dept of Commerce resources and tools as they become available here
Believe in Beer Fund: The Brewers Association has partnered with Bottleshare, a fundraising non-profit dedicated to the craft beverage community, to create the Believe in Beer Fund to support breweries and state brewers guilds impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The fund is open for breweries and state guilds from across the country to apply for financial assistance for operations expenses such as payroll, rent, and utilities. Beginning April 24 and through the end of American Craft Beer Week on May 17, individuals can contribute to the fund by visiting GoFundMe.com. Relief funds will be available to breweries and state guilds that demonstrate immediate financial need due to COVID-19 and meet the outlined criteria.
Brewers Association Best Practices for Beer To-Go Sales, The Brewers Association put together guidelines for breweries to follow when selling beer to-go from their establishments. This guidance includes best practices for maintaining sanitary practices and social distancing in light of COVID-19. Learn more here.
Brewers Association write up on $2 trillion stimulus package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and what it might mean for your brewery here.
BA offering all nonmember breweries a temporary membership free of charge, also not expiring any current brewery members at this time. Contact email@example.com to join and gain access to COVID 19 related updates and online resources.