Governor Closes Taprooms, Relaxes Regulations on Alcohol Sales

Remember when arguing over extending the hours of operation for Montana breweries was the biggest issue facing the industry?

Today Governor Bullock issued a Directive closing all taprooms, bars and restaurants throughout the state effective 8:00 p.m. tonight, Friday, March 20. The order remains in effect until 11:59 p.m. on March 27, though also notes it could be suspended. Specifically the Directive states:

The following places are closed to ingress, egress, use, and occupancy by members of the public:
o Restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, and other similar establishments offering food or beverage for on-premises consumption.
o Alcoholic beverage service businesses, including bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, special licensees, clubs, and other establishments offering alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.

Many other businesses are affected by the Directive, including health clubs, spas, gyms, movie theaters, concert venues and casinos.

The Directive does permit and encourage places subject to the order to offer food and beverage using delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, or drive-up service, when using appropriate cautions such as social distancing. Up to five members of the public at one time are allowed inside for the purposes of picking up food and beverages, so long as the persons are at least six feet apart from each other while on the premises.

Bars and restaurants in Missoula and Butte got an early start adjusting to similar restrictions Tuesday morning after local health officers issued closure orders in individual counties. Many others establishments throughout the state had voluntarily shut down on-premise dining and drinking in response to nationally issued guidelines.

To help ease the burden, Governor Bullock invoked his executive emergency powers to relax alcohol sales restrictions to temporarily allow sales by telephone and delivery. As stated in the Directive:

Customers may order and pay by telephone or online from a retailer or manufacturer licensed to sell alcoholic beverages in the State of Montana. A retailer or manufacturer licensed to sell alcoholic beverages in the state of Montana may deliver for sale the alcoholic beverages for which it is licensed. Delivery must be conducted by the licensee’s employees over the age of 21 and age of the purchaser and recipient must be verified at the time of delivery. The purchased alcohol must be hand-delivered to the purchaser.

Several breweries had announced plans to offer such services earlier this week, but were quickly informed the practice – including taking orders by telephone – was banned under Montana law. The relaxed regulations will stay in place as long as the Directive is in effect.

The full Directive and the Montana Department of Revenue’s guidance for implementing the Directive can be found here: https://mtrevenue.gov/2020/03/20/dine-in-food-service-and-alcoholic-beverage-businesses-closed-by-governor/

Here’s hoping everyone remains safe and we’re back to arguing over hours of operation in short order.

One thought on “Governor Closes Taprooms, Relaxes Regulations on Alcohol Sales

  1. We must support our local breweries and taprooms as this is a vital resource that ties at the heartstrings of our local economies, commerce, and our very souls. When we lose hometown connections and business it is like losing our spirit, there are few things more important than BEER AND COMPASSION!! I believe you are doing a huge service by posting this website for the benefit of the public, Yes it is time for a revival now more than ever!!!

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