January – May 31, 2021 – COVID-19 – Updates

If you are doing any vaccine incentives at your brewery and would like to be listed on the WBG Pints for Pokes webpage, please email annie@washingtonbrewersguild.org to get on the list.

In addition to vaccine incentive specials at participating breweries, we’ve been working to match interested breweries with local health jurisdictions to schedule pop-up vaccine clinics throughout the state during the month of June. We know many of you have worked directly with local vaccine providers to set-up events at your brewery. If you are hosting a pop-up vaccine clinic at your brewery, please send us the details and we’ll add your event to our webpage!

From the LCB: In-person compliance checks resuming for LCB Enforcement and Education Officers

In March 2020, the Enforcement and Education Officers from the Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) stopped doing on-site sales compliance checks in response to COVID-19.

Improving pandemic data has allowed the state to ease or lift most COVID-19 restrictions and LCB’s Enforcement and Education division has determined that restarting compliance checks is again safe, as well as necessary.

Compliance checks involve sending an Investigative Aide (IA) into a licensed business to attempt to buy age-restricted, regulated product (liquor, tobacco, vapor products, cannabis), all while under the supervision of an Enforcement Officer. If a sale is made to the IA, enforcement actions against the licensee and/or the employee who made the sale may happen based on each unique circumstance. Investigative Aides are part-time employees of the LCB who are under the age of 21; usually ages of 18-20.

If you need any assistance educating yourself or your staff about laws and strategies for making sure sales are not made to under-age, or overserved customers, there are many resources available to help.

Visit LCB’s website at the links listed below:

If you want to know more about proactive steps you can take, contact your Enforcement and Education Officer directly using the contact information provided on this webpage link.

Updated COVID-19 Facial Coverings Guidance & Webinar Opportunity:

Today, the state issued updated mask guidance to align with last week’s announcement that WA would be following CDC masking recommendations. The full guidance can be found here.

L&I released this helpful document on mask and distancing requirements for employees, here.

The Washington Hospitality Association is hosting a webinar on masks, vaccines, employees, and guests. WBG members are invited to attend.

Join Washington Hospitality employment law attorney, Catharine Morisset, at 2 p.m. May 28 as she discusses:

  • Mask and vaccine legal requirements for your employees
  • Lawful vaccine incentive programs
  • Mask policies for guests
  • Whether and how to ask guests for proof of vaccination
  • Your Questions

REGISTER HERE

New Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated Weddings, Funerals and Events:

Washington State issued new guidelines for weddings, funerals and events, if all the guests are vaccinated. If the wedding or event meets the guidelines to be a fully vaccinated event, the venue, (inside or outside) may operate at full fire-code capacity, with no increased distance between individuals or groups.

A fully vaccinated adult means that it has been at least two weeks since their second shot of the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccines, or at least two weeks since they received their single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Proof of vaccination must be provided on request. For children ages 2 to 15, or adults with a health condition preventing vaccination, in order to attend the event, they must have tested negative for the coronavirus within 72 hours of admission.

Anyone who presents symptoms of the disease will not be permitted to attend.

King County Announces Mask Directive:

King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin yesterday issued a Health Officer Directive urging residents to keep wearing facemasks in indoor public spaces to slow the spread of coronavirus. This directive will remain in effect until 70% of all adults 16 and older are fully vaccinated. Read more here.

As announced earlier this week, we’re working with state and local health to support the on-going public health COVID-19 vaccination effort. While many breweries are moving forward with their own initiatives, WBG has organized two easy ways for breweries wishing to participate.  From May 15- June 30, WA breweries can opt into our “Pints for Pokes” program by hosting a pop-up vaccination clinic at your brewery, purchasing a pint for anyone with proof of vaccination during that period, or both.

Host a pop-up vaccination clinic at your brewery.

We can help you connect with your local health department to schedule a pop-up vaccination event at your brewery in June. Please note, pop-up clinics will be dependent on local health capacity and we may not be able to accommodate all requests.

To request a pop-up vaccination event at your brewery, register here.

Be a “Pints for Pokes” Participating Brewery.

Participating breweries may purchase a pint or provide other specials for any customer providing proof of a vaccination between May 15 and June 30. We suggest pints be redeemed within 5 days (or another set window of time) of the vaccination date.

Register to be a participating brewery for “Pints for Pokes” here. We’ll share a list on our website and with media and you’ll get a social media toolkit for your use.

Compliance

The Liquor & Cannabis Board has adopted a temporary advisement to make compliance for this event supporting public health easier. On-premises liquor establishments to offer one alcoholic beverage at no cost to customers with proof of vaccination under the following conditions:

  • The customer provides proof to their server that they were vaccinated (first or second vaccination) between May 15, and June 30, 2021 (licensees may choose a window of time between the vaccination date and when the drink can be redeemed, as long as the vaccination was completed within the allowed time period);
  • Customers are limited to one drink;
  • The liquor establishment can provide the drink, or a non-industry member sponsor may pay for the drink;
  •  The drink and taxes are paid for at cost of production by the licensee or a non-industry sponsor; and
  • Advertisements and public information provided by licensees related to drink with vaccination promotions may not contain the words “free” or “complimentary” but may indicate a drink will be purchased on the customer’s behalf with proof of vaccination.

This allowance will expire July 1, 2021. For additional questions, please contact LCB Customer Service at (360) 664-1600, or your enforcement officer.

Courtesy of the Brewers Association: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced this week that eligible businesses have until  Monday, May 24, 8:00 p.m. ET, to submit applications to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF).

The Brewers Association (BA) is calling on Congress to add more funding to the RRF, which was initially funded at $28.6 billion in the American Rescue Plan. According to the SBA, the RRF program has received more than 303,000 applications, representing over $69 billion in requested funds.

Eligible breweries that have not yet submitted an application should work to apply as soon as possible — even if your brewery is not a member of a priority group, to help the SBA and Congress gain a broader understanding of how much additional funding is needed for the RRF.

Although current funds appear to be exhausted, should Congress appropriate additional funds for the RRF program, we expect SBA to process applications based on the order received.

Yesterday, Governor Inslee announced updates to his reopening plan.

On Tuesday, May 18th, all counties will move forward to or remain in Phase 3. As a reminder, in Phase 3, breweries may operate at 50% occupancy indoors and table party size of up to 10.

The state is set to lift the majority of business restrictions on June 30th, if not sooner. The state can fully reopen before June 30th if 70% of everyone 16 and older has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

You can read the governor’s full statement here.

Changes to State Mask Mandate

Yesterday, the Governor also announced that the state will fully adopt masking guidance issued by the CDC. Effective immediately, fully vaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor settings. While the Department of Health and Labor & Industries are expected to issue more guidance next week, we have received the following information from the governor’s office:

  • Businesses are not required to enforce masking for non-vaccinated patrons. This is consistent with our current mask order
  • Businesses are not required to check vax cards or any other proof of vaccination
  • Businesses may still adopt a policy that masks are required for all patrons and a policy to check for proof of vaccination

Mask policies will vary from brewery to brewery, with each business adopting policies to best fit their brewery, employees, and community. We will share any official guidance as soon as it becomes available.

Today, Governor Inslee announced a two week pause on any movement for counties in the phased reopening by county plan. Every county will remain in its current phase – there will be no forward advancement or rollbacks at this time.

For the past several weeks, epidemiologists have been following the state’s fourth COVID-19 wave, which now appears to be leveling out. The fourth wave has been less severe and case counts and mortalities have not been tied in with rates of increase as they have in the past.

The changes in data throughout the fourth wave have been attributed to increasing vaccination rates, shortening hospital stays and lessening the severity of the illness. The state’s early vaccine prioritization has also been tied to improved data and decreasing mortality rates in the state’s most vulnerable populations.

Vaccines are now available to all Washingtonians 16 and up. To find an appointment, visit VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov.

The full guidance for eating and drinking establishments can be found here.

The federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) included language creating a $28.6 billion fund which will provide grants to hospitality businesses, including eligible breweries. The SBA will begin accepting applications this Monday, May 3rd. Applications will be reviewed in the order they are submitted and we expect this money to go fast!

Here’s what you need to know to be ready when the portal opens, courtesy of our friends at the Brewers Association:

Registration Is Now Open

Any brewery using the SBA’s online application portal can register and create a username and password starting TODAY. Note: Businesses working with Square or Toast point-of-sale systems do not need to register beforehand on the SBA’s application portal.

Register now

Award Applications Will Be Accepted Starting Monday

Applications for Restaurant Revitalization Awards will be accepted starting Monday, May 3 at 12:00 p.m. EDT. All eligible applicants are encouraged to submit applications as soon as possible; we expect funds to run out before all applicants receive grants.

The Brewers Association encourages all breweries that are planning on applying for funds to review the sample application on the SBA website and collect the documentation required to apply as soon as possible. View the most current Restaurant Revitalization Program guide to help you gather information.

There Are Two Ways to Apply for an Award

  1. Businesses can use SBA-recognized point of sale (POS) vendors, which include Square, Toast, Clover, NCR Corporation (Aloha).
  2. Businesses that do not work with an SBA-recognized POS vendor can apply directly via theSBA’s Restaurant Revitalization Award Portal.

How the SBA Will Prioritize Applications

For the first 21 days that the program is open, the SBA will prioritize funding applications from businesses owned and controlled by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Following the 21 days, all eligible applications will be funded on a first-come, first-served basis.

We will continue to keep you updated about the program as information becomes available.

On Tuesday May 4th, Gov. Jay Inslee will announce that some counties are moving back a phase. While the numbers are changing from day to day, and anything can change before Tuesday, according to the current metrics:

The following counties are likely moving back to Phase 2:

  • Stevens
  • Franklin
  • Grant
  • King
  • Kitsap
  • Skagit
  • Spokane

It is too soon to tell for the following counties:

  • Kittitas
  • Benton
  • Chelan
  • Lewis
  • Snohomish
  • Whatcom
  • Yakima

Counties already in Phase 2

  • Cowlitz, too close to call for Phase 1 or 2
  • Pierce, likely staying in Phase 2
  • Whitman, likely staying in Phase 2

For suggestions on how to cope with lower indoor capacity, the WA Hospitality Association has advice, here.

Breweries have until Monday, April 26th at 5pm to apply for a WSDA Relief & Recovery Grant! Grant awards and payments will be made by the end of May. Click here to learn more about background, eligibility requirements, and apply!

The federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) included language creating a $28.6 billion fund which will provide grants to hospitality businesses, including eligible breweries. As we understand it, these grants will be first come, first served and you’ll want to be prepared and ready to go when the portal opens.

Visit the SBA RRF website to learn more.

You can view the sample application here to prepare.

The SBA is also hosting a series of RRF webinars next week. Click here to register.

We want to again thank our friends at the Brewers Association (BA) for their hard work ensuring breweries are eligible for these funds. The BA recently hosted a RRF webinar, which you can view here.

Governor Inslee has signed WBG priority legislation, HB 1480, which extends certain LCB Temporary COVID-19 allowances through July 2023. In response to the pandemic and pandemic related closures, the LCB acted swiftly to adopt policies that would give needed flexibility to liquor licensees. This legislation was necessary to ensure these policies can continue.

These policies include curbside sales, growler deliveries, beer-to-go for restaurants, growler pre-fills, and more. Additionally, the legislation will give the LCB more authority to loosen rules around food requirements and outdoor seating. It also includes a study, so that the legislature can look at the impacts of these policies prior to the July 2023 expiration date.

Read more about the bill in this Tacoma News Tribune article.

Today, Governor Inslee announced the rollback of three counties not meeting the Phase 3 Healthy Washington metrics for reopening activities. The rollback is effective this Friday, April 16th.

The three counties returning to Phase 2 are:

  • Cowlitz County
  • Pierce County
  • Whitman County

The next evaluation of counties will be in three weeks, on May 3rd.

Open Air seating is now allowed in Phase 2 at 50% occupancy. Open Air Guidance can be found here and you can view the replay of our Open Air webinar here.

In Phase 2:

  • Indoor seating is permitted at 25% capacity, with tables spaced 6 feet apart
  • Table size is limited to a maximum of six (6) people and a maximum of two (2) households
  • Alcohol service, delivery, and consumption, including beer, wine, and spirits, must end at 11:00 p.m. Food service may continue past 11 pm

Complete guidance for Eating & Drinking Establishments can be found here.

Together with our hospitality industry association partners, we continue to meet regularly with the Governor’s office and state agencies overseeing Phase reopenings to advocate for your ability to reopen safely and provide alternatives to rollbacks. We’ll keep you updated on any developments.

The application portal for the WSDA Relief and Recovery Grants for Craft Beverage Producers is now live! You can find information on eligibility, how to apply, and link to the online application here.

Breweries can submit applications now through April 26th. The grants are NOT first come, first served and all applications submitted during the application period will be considered.

Background

The WSDA Relief and Recovery Grants will provide support to small businesses and organizations in four sectors, including small craft beverage producers, that play an important role in the economic viability of Washington agriculture and have been economically impacted due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. This grant serves the public purpose of bolstering the viability of the Washington State agricultural industry, helping prevent business closures, and hence supporting the health and diversity of Washington State’s economy.

Application Timeline & Grant Amounts

The WSDA Relief and Recovery Grant application portal is now open through April 26th. Grant awards and payments will be made by the end of May.

Grant amounts will be in a set amount of approximately $15,000 (WSDA reserves the right to adjust grant amounts based on available funds).

Eligibility

To be eligible, businesses must:

  • Be licensed to do business in Washington
  • Have been in operation prior to April 1, 2020
  • Attest to gross annual revenues of between less than $5 million and expenditures of at least $15,000
  • Hold a Microbrewery, Domestic Brewery, Domestic Winery (includes cideries), Craft Distillery, or Distillers license issued by the Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board
  • Operate from a physical brick and mortar location in Washington State
  • Normally generate at least 33% its gross annual revenue from in-person sales in its own establishment and/or through distribution to other on-premise retailers
  • Attest to decreased revenue and/or additional costs incurred in 2020 (negative financial impact) resulting from the COVID-19 public health emergency

WBG is here to help! We are working on behalf of the WSDA to provide education and assistance to grant applicants. Please reach out to us with any questions you have about either grant programs or if you need assistance with your WSDA Relief and Recovery Grant application.

Contacts:

Annie McGrath

annie@washingtonbrewersguild.org

Tamara Rice

tamara@washingtonbrewersguild.org

There’s still time to register for the Working Washington Round 4 Grants, available through the Department of Commerce. The deadline is today, April 9, at 5pm. You can apply here.

Important note: your business may be eligible for both the Department of Commerce’s Working Washington Round 4 grant and the WSDA Relief and Recovery grant. However, your business can only accept one of the two grants and may not receive funding from both programs. Here are some factors to consider when looking at both grants:

  • Working Washington Round 4 Grants are capped at $25,000. If you received funding through an earlier round of Working Washington grants (through the Department of Commerce) that amount will be deducted from Round 4 any funding received
  • Working Washington Round 4 Grants must be equitably distributed statewide and to historically underserved and disadvantaged populations. Minority and women owned businesses and businesses located in rural and low-income areas will prioritized for this funding

Gov. Jay Inslee today updated and clarified the criteria for counties to stay in Phase 3 of the state’s Healthy Washington pandemic reopening plan.

Under the plan that took effect March 22, counties are individually evaluated every three weeks. The first evaluation occurs this coming Monday, and changes to a county’s phase status take effect Friday, April 16. In addition to being individually evaluated, large and small counties have different sets of appropriate criteria based on case counts and hospitalizations.

In advance of each county’s evaluation on Monday to determine its phase, the governor established that:

  • In order to move down one phase a county must fail both metrics for case counts and hospitalizations. Under the previous plan, a county only needed to fail one metric to move back one phase.

We will update you on Monday if any counties will be required to roll back to Phase 2. We’ve identified the following counties as “at-risk” based on the current dashboard: Pierce, Cowlitz, Chelan, Douglas, Whitman, and Yakima. This is an evolving situation and subject to change.

Grants through the WA State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) will soon be available for breweries! WSDA is partnering with the WA State Department of Commerce to provide Relief and Recovery Grants for agriculture businesses that have been underserved by earlier COVID-19 financial relief programs.

Background

The WSDA Relief and Recovery Grants will provide support to small businesses and organizations in four sectors, including small craft beverage producers, that play an important role in the economic viability of Washington agriculture and have been economically impacted due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. This grant serves the public purpose of bolstering the viability of the Washington State agricultural industry, helping prevent business closures, and hence supporting the health and diversity of Washington State’s economy.

Application Timeline & Grant Amounts

The WSDA Relief and Recovery Grant application portal is expected to open on April 9th and expected to close on April 26th. Grant awards and payments will be made by the end of May.

Grant amounts will be in a set amount of approximately $15,000 (WSDA reserves the right to adjust grant amounts based on available funds).

Eligibility

To be eligible, businesses must:

  • Be licensed to do business in Washington
  • Have been in operation prior to April 1, 2020
  • Attest to gross annual revenues of between $15,000 and $5 million
  • Hold a Microbrewery, Domestic Brewery, Domestic Winery (includes cideries), Craft Distillery, or Distillers license issued by the Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board
  • Operate from a physical brick and mortar location in Washington State
  • Normally generate at least 33% of its gross annual revenue from in-person sales in its own establishment and/or through distribution to other on-premise retailers
  • Attest to decreased revenue and/or additional costs incurred in 2020 (negative financial impact) resulting from the COVID-19 public health emergency

For more information, visit the WSDA COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Grants page, which will be updated as more info becomes available.

Working Washington Round 4 Grants

Important note: your business may be eligible for both the Department of Commerce’s Working Washington Round 4 grant and the WSDA Relief and Recovery grant. However, your business can only accept one of the two grants and may not receive funding from both programs. Here are some factors to consider when looking at both grants:

  • Working Washington Round 4 Grants are capped at $25,000. If you received funding through an earlier round of Working Washington grants (through the Department of Commerce) that amount will be deducted from Round 4 any funding received
  • Working Washington Round 4 Grants must be equitably distributed statewide and to historically underserved and disadvantaged populations. Minority and women owned businesses and businesses located in rural and low income areas will be prioritized for this funding

While you may apply for both grants, your business can only receive one. The Working Washington Round 4 Grants application portal is open now through April 9th at 5pm. If you are unsure which grant will better serve your business, we encourage you to apply for both.

WBG is here to help! We are working on behalf of the WSDA to provide education and assistance to grant applicants. Please reach out to us with any questions you have about either grant programs or if you need assistance with your WSDA Relief and Recovery Grant application.

Contacts:

Annie McGrath

annie@washingtonbrewersguild.org

Tamara Rice

tamara@washingtonbrewersguild.org

Washington breweries will soon have an option between two small business grant opportunities available through the State’s on-going effort to provide assistance to businesses impacted by the pandemic.

Breweries may be eligible for a grant through the WA Department of Commerce’s “Working Washington” small business grant program OR through upcoming grants that will be made available through the WA Department of Agriculture, targeted at the WA small craft beverage producer sectors.

The portal for Working Washington grant applications is now open and the grant application portal for the Department of Ag small craft beverage producer grants will open late next week. While breweries may meet eligibility requirements for both grant programs, businesses may receive only one of the two grant types available.

Over the next couple weeks, WBG will be providing information and assistance to help you determine which grant might better serve your business.

In the meantime, we encourage you to apply for the “Working Washington” grants found here, now. The Working Washington grant application portal (via the Department of Commerce) will close on April 9th. All applications received within that open period will be considered.

The Department of Ag COVID-19 Recovery Grant website will be updated with eligibility criteria soon, and the application portal will open late next week. You’ll receive a notice from us as soon as the application window opens.

As of March 31, production and taproom brewery employees are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. You can use the vaccine locator tool to help make an appointment.

All WA adults will be eligible beginning April 15th.

The State Department of Health has developed a vaccine toolkit for employers. To learn more about how you can help your staff get vaccinated, including information on how to host a vaccination clinic at your brewery, visit here.

On Monday, the Senate approved HB 1480, an important WBG priority bill that will extend the LCB temporary COVID-19 policies until July of 2023. The House had already approved the measure and the bill is now on its way to the Governor for his signature.

As you know, the Liquor & Cannabis Board acted swiftly last March to provide flexibility in rule for breweries and other liquor licensees as our industries navigated pandemic related restrictions, closures and impacts to business. HB 1480 is necessary legislation to ensure these policies are codified in law and provides much-needed certainty and stability for the breweries and other licensees that have made changes to their operations to utilize these more flexible allowances.

We really appreciate the Legislature’s action on this legislation, as well as the team effort that went into its passage from the WBG, LCB, WA Hospitality Association, and WA Wine Institute!

Our friends at the Brewers Association have been hard at work in DC on behalf of the nation’s craft breweries. Here’s a look at the latest updates on federal COVID-19 relief programs, including the extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the SBA announcing that businesses will not need to get DUNS numbers and SAM.gov log-in to apply for the Restaurant Relief Fund (RRF), and changes to the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

Washington breweries will soon have an option between two small business grant opportunities available through the State’s on-going effort to provide assistance to businesses impacted by the pandemic.

Breweries may be eligible for a grant through the WA Department of Commerce’s “Working Washington” small business grant program OR through upcoming grants that will be made available through the WA Department of Agriculture, targeted at the WA small craft beverage producer sectors.

The portal for Working Washington grant applications is now open and the grant application portal for the Department of Ag small craft beverage producer grants will open in the next two weeks. While breweries may meet eligibility requirements for both grant programs, businesses may receive only one of the two grant types available.

Over the next couple weeks, WBG will be providing information and assistance to help you determine which grant might better serve your business.

In the meantime, we encourage you to read through the eligibility and application requirements for the “Working Washington” grants found here. The Working Washington grant application portal (via the Department of Commerce) will close on April 9th. All applications received within that open period will be considered.

The Department of Ag COVID-19 Recovery Grant website will be updated with eligibility criteria and application requirements for brewery, winery, distillery, and cidery businesses soon.

We truly appreciate the Legislature’s and the Governor’s allocations of funding for small business grants through the Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture; and the State’s recognition that craft beverage producers contribute to the health and diversity of the Washington state economy by providing support to disproportionately impacted and previously underserved agricultural sectors, through these new grants for small craft beverage producers.

Please keep an eye out for more info, coming soon!

Effective March 22, the entire state will move to Phase 3 of the Healthy Washington plan. To help you prepare, the Governor’s office has now released updated “Eating & Drinking Establishments” guidance, which applies to breweries and other licensees.

The major changes found in the guidance are:

  • Indoor dining capacity allowed at 50%
  • Table size increased to 10 with no household restrictions
  • Alcohol service and deliveries allowed until 12am

In addition to these major changes, there were recent modifications to the temporary food menu requirements for on-premise service. Breweries are required to offer food on-site by meeting at least one of the following options:

a. Onsite food: At a minimum, food service should include a combination of small serving food items such as a mix of hors d’oeuvre type foods, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, deli-style meats, chips, pretzels, nuts, popcorn, crackers, or similar items. Food may be prepackaged for individual sale and consumption or prepared off-site for plating for the customer.

OR

b. Offsite food: Customers may bring food from an outside business. The liquor licensee must post in a visible place, a list of multiple local restaurants or food trucks where customers can purchase food during hours of operation. The list shall include names, addresses, contact information, and hours of operation for each restaurant or food truck named.

Again, these new allowances will go into effect on March 22. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions!

Governor Inslee announced that on March 31st, restaurant and food service workers will be eligible to receive vaccines. Brewery employees involved in production are currently eligible for the vaccine as food processors (effective March 17).

We are thrilled that the hard-working brewery employees – working in production and working in taprooms – who have been on the frontlines this last year are now prioritized alongside other essential workers on the vaccine schedule!

For more information on the vaccine roll-out and vaccine locator, click here.

The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) is one of the most advantageous economic stimulus options available to small businesses affected by COVID-19. Allied Member Baker Tilly has put together a resource center on the ERC, here.

Brewers Association members can join the BA on March 23rd at 10am for a webinar explaining the Employee Retention Credit, which businesses are eligible, how to claim it, and limitations resulting from the intersection of PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) and the ERC.

BA members can register for the webinar here.

Effective Monday, March 22nd, the entire state will move to Phase 3 of the Healthy Washington reopening plan.

During Phase 3, breweries and other eating and drinking establishments are permitted to offer indoor service at 50% capacity. Additionally, the cut-off for alcohol service will move to midnight.

We’re working with the Governor’s office on updating the Phase 3 guidance, including any potential changes to table party sizes and potential use of bar seating. The guidance will be available next week.

What we do know now is that social distancing, and mask wearing (while not consuming beverages or food) will still be required. The new and improved on-site food requirements will continue into Phase 3.

Phase 3 will also include some new opportunities for events and spectator sports. Events must follow Phase 3 “Weddings, Funerals, and Events” guidance (TBD) and will be limited to 50% capacity and capped at 400 people maximum. Larger venue events, including sports venues, can open at 25% occupancy or up to 9,000 people, whichever is less. Next week, we will have more information for you from the LCB on Special Occasion License events COVID-19 policies.

Under the updated plan, the metrics of counties, not regions, will be individually evaluated every three weeks. The evaluations will occur on Mondays with any possible changes taking effect Friday. Large and small counties will have different sets of criteria. If any county fails one or more of the metrics below, that county will move down one phase.

The metrics to remain in Phase 3 are as follows:

Larger Counties:

  • New COVID cases per 100,000 population per 14 days less than 200
  • New COVID hospitalizations per 100,000 population per 7 days less than 5

Smaller Counties (Less than 50,000 people):

  • New COVID cases over 14 days less than 30
  • New COVID hospitalizations over 7 days less than 3

If at any point the statewide ICU capacity exceeds 90 percent, all counties will return to Phase 2 status.

Yesterday, Governor Inslee also announced a revised start date for all WA residents that fall into Phase 1B – Tier 2. Phase 1B – Tier 2 eligibility will now begin on Wednesday March 17.

As food processors, some employees involved on the production side of the brewery will qualify for eligibility in Phase 1B – Tier 2. This includes production employees engaged in activities that meet the following criteria:

  • Congregate agriculture–specifically those who work and/or live in a congregate setting interacting with a high volume of co-workers over extended periods of time (i.e., >3 hours in 24 hour day). Relevant roles are more likely to include crop selection, production and packaging vs. equipment maintenance
  • Congregate food processing–specifically those who work and/or live in a congregate setting interacting with high volume of co-workers over extended periods of time (i.e.,>3 hours in 24 hour day).

The WA Department of Health has an online tool where you can check your vaccine eligibility. You can find the full framework for vaccine allocation and prioritization here.

Call To Action for Essential Brewery Employees:

We are very disappointed that the essential employees working in brewery taprooms and local restaurants have not been included with other essential workers on the prioritization schedule. We will continue to advocate for these employees to be included with the other essential workers being prioritized for vaccine eligibility. We encourage you to add your name to this petition to the Governor, requesting that hospitality workers be prioritized with other essential workers for vaccines.

This week, Congress passed and President Biden signed a $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan. We want to thank the Brewers Association for their hard work to ensure that breweries were include in the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, included in the bill. Key provisions of that fund that will be available to small breweries are:

  • Creates a $28.6 billion fund which will provide grants to hospitality businesses including breweries
  • Allows businesses with fewer than 20 locations to apply for grants covering the difference between 2019 and 2020 revenues
  • $10 million is the maximum grant amount a business can apply for
  • The grant money can be used to cover payroll and benefits (excluding employee compensation exceeding $100,000/year), mortgage (no prepayments), rent (no prepayments), utilities, maintenance, supplies (including protective equipment and cleaning materials), food, operational expenses, covered supplier costs, as defined by sick leave, and any other expenses deemed essential by the administrator
  • $5 billion of the $28.6 billion total is reserved for restaurants with less than $500,000 in gross receipts in 2019 for the first 60 days of the program
  • Unlike some of the existing loan/grant programs, businesses that opened in 2020 will also be able to apply for grants to help cover the cost of eligible expenses incurred within that calendar year
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) will administer the program, but it will not go into effect immediately. The agency needs time to organize how they will implement the grants. The SBA is taking input from stakeholders and has been in contact with the Brewers Association

For more info on the other components of the American Rescue Plan, including extension of the employees retention credit and expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program, read this update from Brewers Association Director of Federal Affairs, Katie Marisic.

Governor Inslee announced details for the next tier of vaccine eligibility, Phase 1 B2. Workers engaged in specific types of activity within food processors and agricultural worker occupations will be eligible as soon as March 22 (tentatively and subject to availability).

As food processors and agricultural processors, some brewery employees involved in the production side of operations will qualify for eligibility in Phase 1 B2. Phase 1 B2 would include employees engaged in activities that meet the following criteria:

  • Congregate agriculture–specifically those who work and/or live in a congregate setting interacting with a high volume of co-workers over extended periods of time (i.e., >3 hours in 24 hour day). Relevant roles are more likely to include crop selection, production and packaging vs. equipment maintenance
  • Congregate food processing–specifically those who work and/or live in a congregate setting interacting with high volume of co-workers over extended periods of time (i.e.,>3 hours in 24 hour day)

We continue to work with the Governor’s office and Department of Health to determine when employees involved in essential work in other areas of the brewery, who do not meet the above criteria, will be eligible and will provide information as soon as it becomes available.

You can sign up here to receive eligibility notifications from the Department of Health. For more information on the vaccine eligibility schedule and where to find a vaccine, visit here.

On February 28, 2021, Governor Inslee signed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill (ESSB 5272) into law. This law waives annual renewal fees for 12 months (April 1, 2021 to March 30, 2022). Relevant license types for breweries in this legislation include: microbrewery, domestic brewery, wine/beer restaurant, wine/beer/spirits restaurant, tavern, and caterers.

Additionally, licensees that temporarily closed between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, and did not pay a renewal fee during that time, will not have to pay an additional fee in order to become an active licensee again.

Please contact Licensing Customer Service at the WSLCB for questions about the above information: (360) 664-1600 – Option 1, or at customerservicelicensing@lcb.wa.gov.

On 2/25/2021, Governor Inslee announced a statewide “pause” in any regional phase movement. For at least two weeks, all regions will remain in Phase 2. The Governor’s office and Department of Health are assessing the data and if the numbers look good, they may consider increasing occupancy to 50% in Phase 2. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on any changes to occupancy levels. Phase 3 guidelines are currently under development and details are not yet available.

We are very pleased to report that HB 1480, which would codify and extend the timeline for the LCB’s temporary COVID-19 allowances, cleared the House yesterday by a vote of 86 – 12. This bill is a high priority for our guild and for our partners in the restaurant and bar industry.

The bill is necessary so that licensees can continue curbside, beer/wine/spirits to go, deliveries, and other COVID-19 related allowances. While the LCB has been a fantastic partner in allowing this flexibility since last March, this bill gives these policies needed backing in state law.

The bill will now go to the Senate, where it will need to receive another hearing and vote before it can be signed into law.

In case you missed it, the LCB released its Winter Newsletter earlier this week. This issue covers topics including rulemaking activity, an intro to the new Enforcement Chief, outdoor dining and alterations, special occasion license COVID-19 policies, and more.

This week, the Biden-Harris Administration and the Small Business Administration announced five changes to the Paycheck Protection Program to make relief more accessible to small employers:

  • A 14-day, exclusive PPP loan application period for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees, which started Wednesday, Feb. 24
  • Allows sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals to receive more financial support by revising the PPP’s funding formula for these categories of applicants
  • Eliminates an exclusionary restriction on PPP access for small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions, consistent with a bipartisan congressional proposal
  • Eliminates PPP access restrictions on small business owners who have struggled to make federal student loan payments by eliminating federal student loan debt delinquency and default as disqualifiers to participating in the PPP
  • Ensures access for non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents by clarifying that they may use Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to apply for the PPP

All changes (minus the 14-day loan window for small businesses, which is in effect now) will be implemented by the first week of March.

This week, we confirmed with the State Department of Health that the mask mandate still applies to all employees and patrons, regardless of vaccination status. All employees and patrons must wear a mask at all times when not seated and eating or drinking.

With all regions now in Phase 2, there are new opportunities for live entertainment and music at breweries. Breweries must follow the Theater and Performing Arts Guidance for live performances and trivia/patron participation activities, and comply with all industry guidance for eating and drinking establishments.

 Here’s a helpful primer we received from the Governor’s office:

  •  Live entertainment includes musical soloists, djs, musical groups, trivia, and other spoken-word, theatrical, or dance performances
  • Anytime a live entertainer(s) is on-site to perform, you must first identify whether the entertainment will occur indoors or outdoors. Open-Air seating areas will fall under the guidelines for outdoor performances
  • For music, whenever a vocalist is present, follow the “Choral/Vocal/Opera…” section
  • The distance between performers and audience members must be at least 20 feet
  • A solo singer without a facemask must be 15 feet away from other musicians. Best practices include using a plexiglass 3-sided barrier and disinfecting after every use
  • If there are multiple singers, all singers are required to wear a three-layer surgical mask; maintain at least 9 feet of physical distance from others; and limit the total number of singers to 15
  • Instrumentals: all non-wind/brass instruments space six feet apart from each other; wind/brass must be spaced nine feet apart with a bell cover. All non-wind/brass players must wear a face covering throughout the performance, wind and brass players will remove their coverings when playing
  • Any indoor performance can only last for 45 minutes before a 30-minute break. Total performance time may not exceed two hours
  • The indoor and outdoor capacity limits differ between Restaurants/Taverns and Live Entertainment- default to the 6-person party limit per table limit and 25% capacity cap
  • When food/alcohol is not being served/consumed, all customers must wear a face covering
  • The brewery and performers will be jointly responsible for ensuring compliance with the guidance

For other forms of indoor entertainment, such as pool, darts, arcade games, etc., follow the Indoor Entertainment Guidance.

Yesterday, the Governor announced an additional five regions will be moving to Phase 2, effective this Sunday, February 14th.

The five regions moving to Phase 2 this Sunday are:

  • East (Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln, Spokane, Adams, Whitman, Garfield, Asotin)
  • North (Island, San Juan, Whatcom, Skagit)
  • North Central (Okanogan, Chelan, Douglas, Grant)
  • Northwest (Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason)
  • Southwest (Wahkiakum, Cowlitz, Clark, Skamania)

Puget Sound and West regions will remain in Phase 2. South Central Region (Benton, Franklin, Columbia, Kittitas, Walla Walla, and Yakima Counties) will remain in Phase 1. Until we are able to get further movement for South Central, any breweries that are located in the region that are struggling to implement Open Air Dining, please don’t hesitate to reach out to annie@washingtonbrewersguild.org to see if we can help you get into compliance for Open Air.

For more information on what’s allowed in Phases 1 and 2 and links to updated guidance for eating and drinking establishments, here.

There is still a requirement that food be made available on-site for Phase 2 indoor service. You can find the updated on-site food requirements, which now allow for snack options and outside food, here.

This week, new guidance was issued for indoor and live entertainment. Breweries and other eating and drinking establishments may now allow some forms of entertainment, so long as they are done in compliance with the guidelines for indoor entertainment, found here and for live entertainment, found here.

Games & Indoor Entertainment:

Breweries may resume some activities such as pool, darts, arcade gaming, and other games & activities, so long as these activities are done in compliance with the Indoor Entertainment Guidance all other guidelines for eating/drinking establishments. Things you will need to consider when resuming these activities include:

  • Ensure games and activities are 6 feet apart
  • Prohibit mingling between parties (i.e. one table party per game at a time)
  • Customers must be masked at all times when not seated at a table (i.e. not drinking or eating while at a gaming table or participating in an activity that is not at their table)
  • Disinfect games and equipment used for activities between parties

Live Entertainment:

While live entertainment is still very limited in Phase 1, Phase 2 now allows for breweries and other eating/drinking establishments to provide some forms of live entertainment. We have been advised that activities like trivia and other activities where a seated group is led through activities should be considered live entertainment, and the live entertainment guidelines apply to those activities.

We will have a more detailed overview of live entertainment for you next week.

This week, the Senate voted to approve House Bill 1368, which allocates $2.2 billion in COVID-19 federal relief funds. The bill had already cleared the House and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature. Included in the bill is $240 million in grants to small businesses to be issued through the WA Department of Commerce. The bill also provides funding for K-12 schools, public health, healthcare, and assistance to individuals.

Once available, we’ll get you information on how to apply for these new grants. Businesses may be eligible if annual gross receipts were less than $5 million in 2019.

Food must still be made available on-site for indoor service in Phase 2, however, there have been significant changes to the guidance and three meal offerings are no longer required. Snack options (outlined below) and allowing customers to bring in outside food will now meet the food criteria for indoor service in Phase 2.

Here’s the new food guidance for breweries:

  • Food offerings must be provided on-site by the licensed business to customers, during COVID-19 business operations, until such time as full capacity in licensed locations is allowed
  • “Food offerings” means a combination of small serving food items to include a mix of hors d’oeuvre type foods, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, deli-style meats, chips, pretzels, nuts, popcorn, crackers, or similar items
  • Food offerings may be free-of-charge or sold
  • Food offerings may be prepackaged for individual sale and consumption
  • Food offerings may be prepared off-site for plating for the customer
  • Food offerings are not required to have warming, cooking, or heating off-site or on-site prior to service
  • In addition to the required on-site food offerings, the Brewery or Winery shall post, in a conspicuous place within any tasting room, a list of multiple local restaurants or food trucks where customers can purchase food for consumption in the tasting room. The list shall include names, addresses, contact information, and hours of operation for each restaurant or food truck named

Anyone 65 and older and those 50 and older who also live in a multigenerational household are now eligible for the new coronavirus vaccine. The WA Department of Health has an online tool where you can check your vaccine eligibility.

You can find the full framework for vaccine allocation and prioritization here.

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!

Brewers Association is conducting its annual production survey and could use your help! The 2020 data will be especially important to federal and state lobbying efforts this year. You can complete the survey, here: https://www.brewersassociation.org/bips/

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.

In our continued effort to get Washington brewers’ stories out in the public, we want to thank Mike Runion for his recent Op-Ed in the Tacoma News Tribune. You can view Mike’s work, here.

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.

Phases:

Phase 1:

  • Current restrictions will remain in place (including the ban on indoor dining)
  • All regions begin in Phase 1

Phase 2:

  • 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

Regions:

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)

Criteria:

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.

Phase 1:

  • Your region’s current numbers

Phase 2:

  • 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.