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Over the last two years, MALA has convened bi-weekly phone meetings to discuss COVID-19 and its impact on Maryland businesses. These strategies - suggested through collaboration across jurisdictions - provide guidance to address continued, pandemic-related challenges.
They are by no means legally binding but represent words of advice. Contact MALA if you are interested in participating in these discussions.
Over the coming months, we'll be hearing a lot from the state and local leaders, and some the information and guidance we receive may be contradictory. Think through your strategies carefully, and know that collaboration across agencies will yield community-specific results that will fit into the broader picture.
While strategies need to be created and implemented collaboratively, one agency needs to take the lead. Make sure that the Health Department takes a key role in policy and programmatic implementation. Ensure open communication among your law enforcement agency, health department, and liquor board.
This is a new area of responsibility for liquor boards. Collaborate with local businesses to make this happen. For example, provide signage and other support as restaurants continue to expand open air seating.
Have your licensees check with their local insurance agencies to make sure they are covered, particularly if they're expanding to outdoor seating.
Establishments should not accept an expired driver's license as proof of age, now that DMVs are fully operational.
Many communities have integrated ID scanners to prevent underage alcohol purchases. Regulators say that there may even be an uptick of using fake IDs because young people feel that retailers and restaurants may be checking less due to the pandemic. One county affirmed that they place scanners on a stand which streamlines and eliminates the need for retailers to touch any form of identification.
On another note, remember that point of sale (POS) scanners ONLY decode what is on an ID. You need a scanner that ACTUALLY decodes state information.
Best advice - scanners are tools. Get that ID into your hands for a more complete review.
This one is important! Consult with your Liquor Board attorney to insure that any strategies formulated pass the legal test.
Howard County, Maryland's Alcohol Beverage Inspector Mark Baxter provides important information on how to address the challenges associated with face coverings and confirming a purchaser's age.
This is particularly important as COVID-19 continues to be a challenge in Maryland communities.
Montgomery County Alcohol Beverage Services conducted a Mystery Shops Program during the pandemic. Under-21 individual ordered drinks at establishments throughout the County, requesting curbside pick-up.
Review findings here.
ORGANIZATIONS & AGENCIES
Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
National Alcohol Beverage Control Association: COVID-19 Resources
National Liquor Law Enforcement Association: COVID-19 Member Advisory
National Restaurant Association: Coronavirus Information and Resources
ARTICLES & PUBLICATIONS
Center for Alcohol Policy.org: "Crisis De-Regulations" Should They Stay or Should They Go?