LINCOLN – Governor Pete Ricketts issued an executive order on March 19, to provide relief to restaurants and bars as they continue to serve Nebraskans during the coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) pandemic. In keeping with federal guidelines, the State of Nebraska has issued guidance that restaurants and bars are currently limited to 10 patrons as part of a nationwide social distancing effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
On March 19, the State of Nebraska directed restaurants and bars in Cass, Douglas, Sarpy, and Washington counties to close their dining/seating areas and move to takeout, carry-out, or delivery only. This action came after the Douglas County Public Health Department reported its second case of COVID-19 that officials could not trace to its origin (commonly known as a “community spread” case).
The Governor’s executive order will permit restaurants and bars statewide greater flexibility to serve Nebraskans during the current public health emergency.
- Liquor Licensing – Establishments such as pizza parlors (Class A license holders) will be able to sell beer to customers on take-out or delivery orders. Restaurants (Class I license holders) will be able to sell beer, wine, and spirits to customers placing take-out or delivery orders.
- Sale of Alcohol – To encourage social distancing, restaurants and bars will be permitted to sell alcohol on the drive-thru or curbside orders without customers having to exit their motor vehicles.
- Temporary Operating Permits – Temporary operating permits will be extended from 90 to 180 days.
- Waiver of Excise Tax Penalties – Excise tax payees still have the duty to file and pay the excise tax according to the statute. However, the executive order will waive penalties for late payments.
- Payment of wine and spirit deliveries – Under normal circumstances, wine and spirit deliveries must be paid within 30 days. The executive order will give restaurants and bars 90 days to pay for wine and spirit deliveries for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. The requirement that beer deliveries be paid upon delivery is not changed.