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Licensing Board COVID-19 advisories

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Licensing Board

You can find a list of Licensing Board advisories below related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency.

On October 19, 2020, the Board issued an Advisory regarding live entertainment in restaurants and theater and performance venues. Read the advisory.

On September 22, 2020, the state issued updates to the safety standards for restaurants. On September 23, Mayor Walsh announced how these updates will be put in place for indoor and outdoor dining in Boston. These updated safety standards go into effect on September 28. Read the safety standards advisory.

On September 15, 2020, the Licensing Board issued an advisory regarding outdoor dining and the use of approved heaters. Temporary outdoor dining extensions has been extended to December 1, 2020. Read the advisory.

On August 10, 2020, the Licensing Board issued an advisory regarding the Governor's Executive Order effective August 11, 2020. The advisory is regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premise consumption and the operations of restaurants.
Read the advisory.

On July 27 2020, the Licensing Division issued guidance on hosting an outdoor drive-in theater or outdoor theater in the City of Boston as part of Step 1 of Phase 3.

 On July 21, 2020, the Licensing Board issued an advisory regarding the temporary sale of mixed drinks for off-premise consumption by Section 12 licensees. Read the advisory.

On July 13, 2020, the Licensing Board issued two advisories regarding the allowance of entertainment and special events with certain conditions. Read the advisory on special events and the advisory on entertainment applicable to annual licensees.

As of June 19, 2020, only non-live entertainment consisting of televisions and background music is permitted inside of licensed premises at this time.  Live entertainment, including performers, DJs, dancing by patrons, and trivia, are strictly prohibited. Entertainment is not permitted on temporary outdoor extensions. Licensed premises with entertainment granted on the annual entertainment license for outdoor spaces are permitted to have non-live entertainment.

On June 19, 2020, the Licensing Board issued an advisory regarding the allowance of indoor dining with certain conditions. Read the indoor dining advisory.

On June 12, 2020, the Licensing Board issued an advisory regarding beer gardens, breweries, wineries, and distilleries for outdoor spaces. Read the advisory.

On June 8, 2020, the Licensing Board issued an advisory regarding the allowance of outdoor dining. Read the advisory.

On May 15, 2020, the Licensing Board released an initial questionnaire regarding a proposed temporary extension of licensed premise onto outdoor space. This questionnaire does not constitute approval.

A proposed extension onto public property will require interdepartmental review. The Licensing Board will work with the Transportation Department, Public Works, the Public Improvement Commission, Inspectional Services, and other departments to review each request. We will determine what additional information is necessary to complete a thorough review. We will also make a determination regarding the feasibility of the proposed extension at the specific location.

Any Licensee granted a temporary extension must abide by all rules, regulations, laws, advisories, and guidelines issued by the City, state, and federal government. These include include all social distancing requirements; all of the foregoing may be amended by the respective agencies at any time. Any approval will be made on a temporary, non-precedent setting basis due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Read more about the streamlined process.

Effective April 24, 2020, The City of Boston is temporarily allowing existing restaurants (holding either a valid Common Victualler License or a Common Victualler with Alcoholic Beverages License) to sell grocery items with the written approval of the Board and the Inspectional Services Department.

To request permission to sell grocery items please complete the following steps:
  1. Review the Board's Advisory and Guidance issued by the Inspectional Services Department.
  2. Submit a health, safety, and operations plan (an outline of the plan can be found online) and a copy of all valid licenses and permits to the Board via email at LicensingBoard@boston.gov.
  3. The Board will review the documents submitted in collaboration with the Inspectional Services Department and advise whether any additional items or information are required.
  4. Once the Board and the Inspectional Services Department approve the request to temporarily sell grocery items, the Board will issue an approval letter via email. The letter must be signed and returned to the Board via email before the sale of grocery items.

The Board and the Inspectional Services Department are working to expedite the review of all requests by restaurants to temporarily sell grocery items. We have been issuing approvals within 24 hours. Have questions? Contact the Board at 617-635-4170 or LicensingBoard@boston.gov.

Effective Friday, April 3, 2020,  Section 12 License holders are temporarily permitted to sell wine and malt beverages for off-premise consumption. Read the Licensing Board advisory for more details.

On March 31, 2020Governor Baker issued an Executive Order extending the temporary closure of certain non-essential businesses and the prohibition of gatherings of more than 10 people until Monday, May 4, 2020. Read the Licensing Board advisory

In addition, lodgings — including hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, and short-term residential rentals (for example, Airbnb and Vrbo) — may only be used for efforts to fight COVID-19. The Licensing Board released an advisory on lodgings, as did the Mass. Department of Public Health.