ABS has closely monitored the COVID-19 pandemic and has been in regular contact with state and local health officials during this very challenging time. The health and safety of our customers and employees is our top priority and we take our responsibility seriously. We have implemented numerous safety precautions in our offices, retail stores, within our warehouse and during licensee deliveries to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We have implemented critical safeguards, social distancing practices, and stringent cleaning protocols. Our stores continue to operate on a modified schedule and our warehouse has made changes to its policies to continue providing top-notch service. We know that things are still far from normal and we thank you for allowing us to serve you.

For answers to common questions regarding our retail stores, licensee impacts, etc., please refer to our list of Frequently Asked Questions below. These answers are updated on a regular basis.

 

Retail Customer FAQs Licensed Business FAQs

 

 

Retail Customer FAQs

 

Are your retail stores open for business? 

Yes, with modified hours. Beginning Tuesday, March 17, 2020, we reduced hours of operation at our retail stores in response to the pandemic. Most stores are currently open Monday - Saturday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. and closed on Sundays. For a list of retail stores and locations, please click here.

 

What new procedures have you adopted to protect customers from COVID-19?

The cleanliness and safe operation of our retail stores is critical. In addition to daily cleaning, high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces are frequently sanitized and plexiglass shields have been installed in each store to create a barrier between consumers and staff at the register. Floor markers and signage reminding customers to engage in social distancing. Face coverings and frequent hand-washing are required for all employees. Plus, in our stores, shoppers must also wear a face covering. 

We continue to follow all CDC, state, and local health official guidance.   

 

Do I need to wear a face-covering while shopping?

Yes. On Monday, April 13, 2020, ABS began requiring customers to wear a face-covering when shopping in our stores as part of the County Executive's health order. In addition, our employees are also required to wear face coverings to protect the health and safety of customers and staff. 

 

Will your stores still hold in-store tastings or events?

No. For the health and safety of our customers and employees, all in-store tastings and events have been canceled indefinitely.

 

Do your stores offer curbside pick-up or delivery? 

Unfortunately, no, not at this time. Given the higher level of staff call-outs coupled with the increase in business at many of our stores, we are unable to pull employees off the floor and away from registers at this time. However, we are continuing to look at options to offer curbside pick-up as we know our customers have an interest in this service.  

In terms of delivery, Maryland law allows for the delivery of beer, wine, and spirits by store employees. However, the use of third-party delivery services (e.g., Grub Hub, Uber Eats) are prohibited. Given employee liability concerns, ABS retail stores do not offer delivery. 

With support from ABS, restaurants were recently granted temporary permission to sell and deliver beer, wine, spirits and cocktails to-go during the emergency shutdown. While the new MoCo Eats To-Go Guide is a restaurant directory promoting take out, pick-up, and food delivery options in Montgomery County, you can also contact individual restaurants to see if they are selling or delivering alcohol beverages: https://visitmontgomery.com/restaurant-directory/

 

What happens if/when a store employee tests positive for COVID-19?

When ABS is notified that a store employee has tested positive for Covid-19, we take a number of immediate actions to protect the health and safety of our customers and employees. 

  • We require each employee in the affected store to contact the County Disease Control Hotline where a decision is made regarding their need to quarantine and/or get tested for COVID-19.  Note: this process is at the direction of the County Health Department.
  • We stay in contact with all affected employees throughout this process and should we have an instance where multiple employees test positive or we lack the staffing required to operate a store, we may decide to close the affected store for an appropriate amount of time.  
  • We deeply value transparency and whenever the decision is made to close a store, a press release is issued and information is communicated on our website and via social media. However, we are very limited in what exactly we can share in regard to employees who test positive due to Federal HIPPA Law. We are as transparent as we can possibly be while remaining within those guidelines.

Each situation is different, is closely monitored, and situations can change quickly based on new information received. While many private-sector retailers do not go close their stores in these situations, we are affiliated with the government and go above and beyond what is required.

 

 

Licensed Business FAQs

Is the ABS office still open?

Our offices at 201 Edison Park Drive are currently closed to the public. 

 

How do I contact the Communications Center and/or how do I place orders?

For ordering, questions or concerns, please email ABS.CommunicationCenter@montgomerycountymd.gov.

For questions and concerns only, you can also reach one of our specialists at 240-777-1900.

All orders must be placed by either (1) iStore (2) email or (3) fax (240-777-1909). Please note: The Communications Center is no longer taking orders by phone.

 

Is the Pick-Up Window open?

Yes, We are open for licensee pick-ups on the following days/times:
Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Fridays from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
 
Ordering deadlines for day of pick-ups:
All pick-up orders must be completed by 3:00 p.m. (orders must be placed prior to arriving at the ABS Warehouse) so orders can be processed and ready to go by the 3:30 p.m. closing. To place your order, please email ABS.CommunicationCenter@montgomerycountymd.gov or fax 240-777-1909.
 
If you placed an order on iStore and would like to pick it up, you must contact the Communication Center (240-777-1900 or by email ABS.CommunicationCenter@montgomerycountymd.gov) by 3 p.m. with your order number to have it released and ready for your arrival.
 
Maximum numbers of cases that can be picked up at the ABS warehouse is 150 cases per pick up day:
For orders placed the day prior to pick-up (during business hours): 150 cases max
For orders placed the day of pick-up: 50 cases max

 

Have there been any changes to annual alcohol beverage license renewals?

The annual alcohol license renewal period is here. This renewal period covers license years 2020 and 2021.
To maximize social distancing, license renewal will be conducted virtually.

April 19, 2021 – applications emailed to licensees
April 26, 2021 – first day to submit application
June 18, 2021 – last day to submit application
July 6, 2021 – first day to pay for and receive license
July 23, 2021 – last day to pay for and receive license
 
 

When will the next Board of License Commissioners meeting be held?

The Board of License Commissioners hearings scheduled for March 18 will be held by teleconference. Members of the public who wish to attend can join the hearing on Teams.

Microsoft Teams meeting
Join on your computer or mobile app
Click here to join the meeting
Or call in (audio only)
+1 443-692-5768,,654927842#   United States, Baltimore
Phone Conference ID: 654 927 842#

For questions, call 240-777-1999 or email ABSLicensing@montgomerycountymd.gov

Get the agenda at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/ABS/resources/files/licensure/hearing/abs-hearing-agenda.pdf. Check this site frequently for updates.


What is the guidance for live music?

Montgomery County will remain in Phase 2 as the State moved to its Phase 3 reopening, which went into effect on Friday, September 4 at 5:00 p.m. Venues such as indoor and outdoor food service establishments, breweries, and wineries may now include live performances as part of their dining experience under the following requirements:

  • Live performances that are part of the dining experience are permitted. Performances include live music in restaurants.
  • Live performers include DJs and buskers.
  • Dancing or congregating in front of the performers is prohibited.
  • Individuals present during a live performance must still wear masks unless they are eating or drinking (and they must be seated while eating and drinking).

For further information on live performances visit: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/reopening/requirements/concerts-theaters.html

 

Will you continue your Drop and Go delivery policy?

Yes. We require drivers and customers to keep at least six feet from each other during the entire delivery. As such, our drivers are dropping orders in a designated area of the premises, keeping away from both consumers and retail employees, and leave once the delivery has been completed. Our drivers will not stay on-premises for the check-in of product. If you find any invoice discrepancies, please contact the Communications Center at ABS.CommunicationCenter@montgomerycountymd.gov and the discrepancy will be fully researched. If appropriate, a credit will then be issued to you. 


Is the retail store bottle fee in effect for licensees?

No, we are waiving the 80-cent bottle fee (liquor and wine) at our retail stores since delivery minimums will continue until further notice. ABS implemented a minimum delivery of four cases of wine/spirits, seven cases of beer, and for kegs- two (2) sixtels, two (2) quarters or one (1) one-half barrel. Minimums can be met with stock or special order items. If your order does not meet the minimum, ABS will not deliver your order until the minimum is reached. If a customer needs stock or special order cases and cannot meet the minimums for delivery, customers can order directly at one of our retail stores and pick up product at the store once it has been received. Please note, you will have to pay for the cases when placing the order.

 

Where can I get the product newsletter?

The ABS monthly newsletter is available on the licensee portal. ABS is no longer printing hard copies. To view the newsletter, log in to the licensee portal with your account number at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/ABS/licensees/portal/

 

Are you still conducting training sessions?

ALERT is held online from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on the 2nd and 4th Monday of every month (except if the Monday falls on a holiday). Register online.

 

Can restaurants have indoor and outdoor seating?

The County Executive has announced that restaurants and bars may offer indoor dining at 25% capacity. For details visit Reopening Montgomery for details on foodservice establishments.

Businesses that want to make temporary changes to the indoor layout (once it reopens) or their outdoor cafes in response to social distancing requirements should submit a COVID-19 Temporary Business Modification Form. Businesses should use the same form if they want to make changes to the inside the building for the next phases of reopening.

If organizations such as property management companies or municipalities want to provide an outdoor seating area that could be used by multiple restaurants, they should complete the COVID-19 Temporary Consumption Area Approval.

For questions, call 240-777-1999 or email ABSLicensing@MontgomeryCountyMD.gov.

 

Can restaurants now sell and deliver beer, wine and spirits for off-premises consumption? 

The Montgomery County Board of License Commissioners has approved a resolution to allow restaurants to sell beer, wine and spirits to-go during this emergency shutdown. Businesses must apply for approval. For the application, click here

Approved Resolution:

While the Governor’s order to close all restaurants as a part of the catastrophic health emergency remains in effect, all restaurants licensed by the Montgomery County Board of License Commissioners may sell sealed containers of beer, wine, and liquor (for those with a qualifying liquor license) for off-premises consumption along with a takeout or delivered meal. This permission includes any type of sealed container, including bottles, cans, growlers, crowlers, and takeout cups with lids for off-premises consumption. This permission expires when the emergency order to close restaurants is lifted. Businesses may deliver beer, wine and liquor to Montgomery County addresses along with a meal using their own staff. State law prohibits the delivery of alcohol by a third party, such as Grubhub or Uber Eats.

Can restaurants serve alcohol after 10 p.m.?

By order of the County Executive and the County Board of Health, the 10:00 p.m. end time for alcohol service has been lifted. Licensed facilities may serve alcohol within the hours allowed by their license.

Additional information on food services reopening:
https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/reopening/requirements/foodservice.html

 

What are the restrictions for special events under COVID-19? Can I obtain a One-Day Special license under these restrictions?

Under the County Board of Health Regulation, a Letter of Approval from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is required for an activity to occur.

Outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 50 people. Indoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 25 people.

To request a Letter of Approval or clarification on whether you can hold an event visit: https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/reopening/letter-of-approval.html

You must obtain the Letter of Approval from HHS prior to requesting a One-Day Special license. Please note that processing times for the Letter of Approval and the One-Day Special license can take up to two weeks. 

 

Where can I find the Governor's Executive Orders Regarding COVID-19? 

They can be found by visiting https://governor.maryland.gov/covid-19-pandemic-orders-and-guidance/

 

Updated 4/22/21