Virginia Enacts Outdoor Refreshment Area Legislation

On July 1, 2021, Virginia ABC will replace the application for Local Special Events (LSE) licenses with Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (ORA) licenses. As with the LSE license, an ORA license may be issued only to a locality, business improvement district or nonprofit organization and authorizes the consumption of alcoholic beverages within public spaces of the ORA, any permanent retail on-premise licensee that is located within the ORA and any business without a license so long as the business owner agrees. Businesses with on-premise licenses may not allow outside alcohol into their establishments.

The locality must be part of the discussion of boundaries for the ORA. No more than 16 events of no more than three days per year will be granted ORA licensees unless the locality adopts an ordinance requesting an increase in frequency and duration. The ordinance must specify the size and boundaries of the ORA, a public safety plan and any other considerations deemed necessary by ABC. 

Only alcoholic beverages purchased from permanent retail on-premises licensees located within the designated area may be consumed in the ORA, and such alcoholic beverages shall be contained in paper, plastic, or similar disposable containers that clearly display the name or logo of the retail on-premises licensee from which the alcoholic beverage was purchased. Alcoholic beverages shall not be sold or charged for in any way by the ORA licensee. The ORA licensee must post appropriate signage clearly demarcating for the public the boundaries of the ORA; however, no physical barriers is required for this purpose. The ORA licensee will also have to provide adequate security to ensure compliance with ABC regulations.

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Image Credit: Virginia ABC