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08.12.2021 Alcoholic Beverage Law

Proposed North Carolina Common Area Entertainment Permit Rules

The NC ABC Commission has circulated proposed common area entertainment permit rules, which are still in the drafting stage. Click here to view a copy.

The Commission requested initial comments by Friday, August 13, 2021, and will review any comments it receives before preparing the rules for the formal rulemaking process, which the Commission currently plans to begin in October 2021.

During the formal rulemaking process, the rules will be formally introduced by the Commission, be subject to public comment and a public hearing, and then go through the formal rulemaking process at the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings.  This process can take several months to a year. 

The draft proposed common area rules in their current form would:

  • Define “common area” to exclude “parking fields” and limited to “pedestrian, non-vehicular purposes.”
  • Define “parking field” to include any area identified or reserved for parking.
  • Require the common area applicant to submit, among other documents, a list of all tenants connected to the common area, identifying them by the food, goods, or services they sell, as well as their ABC permit number.
  • Require delineated vertical boundaries surrounding the consumption area.
  • Require specific signage at all entrances and exits.
  • Require retail permittees to post signs with written policies on allowing open containers to be brought into their retail premises from the common area.
  • Limit alcohol in the common area to alcohol from retail permittees contiguous to the designated consumption area; alcohol must have been sold and served on the retailer’s licensed premises.
  • Require cups in the common area to be “non-glass,” capable of holding no more than 16 ounces, that display the name or registered trademark of the retail permittee, the physical address, the date the container was sold, and in 12 point font the statement “Drink Responsibly – Be 21”.
  • Limit alcohol to that contained in the “original container sold by the retail permittee” – NOTE – this is confusing with the cup rule and is also unclear how it applies to mixed beverages.
  • Provide that common area permit holders are responsible for clearing open containers during the hours alcohol may not be sold by law; must ensure that the common area is only open when at least two retail licensed premises are open and engaged in the sale of alcohol; and ensure an employee or agent with attire that identifies the individual as representing the common area shall be in the common aera at all times alcohol is possessed and consumed.
  • Require access to two restrooms in the common area or in retail premises where access is allowed.