While there are several different retail channels (e.g., bars, taverns, restaurants) permitted to sell alcoholic beverages (e.g., beer, wine, liquor) for onsite (on-premise) consumption and a variety of definitions used to differentiate between these retail channels in any given state, we have categorized on-premise retail channels into two categories, restaurants and bars/taverns, for purposes of tracking and assessing state-level policy changes made by executive action. 

For purposes of these dashboards, we have defined bars/taverns to mean:

Bar/Tavern - An establishment where its primary operation is to sell alcoholic beverages (e.g., beer, wine, liquor) for onsite (on-premise) consumption. Bar/tavern operations vary by state. While in some states bars/taverns may be permitted to sell all types (e.g., beer, wine, liquor) of alcoholic beverages to go for off-premise consumption, others may only allow bars/taverns to sell one type of alcoholic beverages for off-premise consumption. To capture this variety in state code, we have collected these operational practices by 1) determining whether bars/taverns were already permitted to sell alcohol to go for off-premise consumption before COVID-19 (e.g., operate as normal) and 2) identifying the new operational practices that have been permitted through COVID-19 policy changes through executive action (e.g., curbside pickup, delivery).

Since the bar/tavern category is meant to capture all locations where the primary operation is to sell alcoholic beverages, other location types, such as nightclubs, are also reflected within this category. When an executive order applies to only a subset of establishments (e.g., nightclubs) within the larger bar/tavern category, these changes will NOT be reflected in the dashboard unless the ENTIRE category is impacted.

Additionally, some states do not allow “traditional” bars, meaning every bar/tavern is required to serve a full menu of food. For these states, the “Restaurant Operations” dashboard will more accurately reflect the current operations.

Additional information is provided below to better contextualize the policy changes displayed on the dashboards.

Variable Definitions - Click here for explanations of variables used in this dataset

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  • Operations

    The map to the left reflects the progress of reopening for bars in each state (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation). The map on the right identifies states where outdoor seating requirements have been imposed and where requirements were formerly imposed and have now been lifted.

  • Curbside Pick-up

    The following maps outline where alcohol curbside pick-up and alcohol delivery permissions for bars during the pandemic are permitted.

    (Source: State executive orders and Legislation)

    The left map reflects whether beer and wine can be sold for curbside pick-up by bars. Hover over each state to see its current status of curbside pick-up, date(s) of temporary allowance and whether food purchase is required for curbside pick-up of alcohol. The map to the right illustrates details for how spirits, if allowed, may be picked up curbside (e.g., in manufacturer-sealed packaging only, mixed and sealed on-site).

  • Delivery

    The left map reflects whether beer and wine can be delivered by bars. The map on the right shows how spirits, if allowed, can be delivered (e.g., in manufacturer-sealed packaging only, mixed and sealed on-site).

    (Source: State Executive Orders and Legislation)


Explanation and Exceptions to Tracking Reopenings:

To track reopenings of dine-in operations for restaurants and bars, we identified the first date in which an order was lifted or implemented permitting restaurants and/or bars to reopen dine-in operations. States have taken different approaches to account for high-risk localities (i.e. COVID-19 hotspots) and low-risk localities (usually non-metro areas with low case counts), with many allowing local governments to choose whether to opt-in or opt-out of the statewide reopening timeline. Please note that these dashboards show statewide changes with dates reflective of when an entire state is ordered to move forward with a reopening plan, regardless if localities opt-out. Additionally, we have categorized on-premise operations within a state as allowing “some locations to reopen” when an executive order has explicitly mandated that certain, named localities reopen and others remain closed.

If a state has paused or reverted to a previous phase in its reopening plan, we have attempted to capture changes impacting on-premise locations. If a state has required the re-closing of bars or restaurants in certain localities but NOT all, we have categorized the state as “on-premise operations suspended for some locations again after reopening.” If all bars or restaurants have been required to close, we have categorized the state as “on-premise operations suspended again after reopening.”

Explanation and Exceptions to Delivery/Pickup Categorizations:

Within the dashboard tables, the date reflected in the alcohol curbside pickup/delivery columns reflects the FIRST executive order or agency rule that authorized on-premise establishments to conduct curbside pickup/delivery for off-premise consumption. In many cases, this original order/rule referred only to beer and wine but was later amended to include spirits-based beverages. If spirits-based beverages were authorized in a separate, subsequent order/rule, the later date is NOT reflected in the dashboards. Also, it is possible that an order/rule allows alcohol to be sold for pickup/delivery, but localities have prohibited this change through local ordinances.

Alcohol delivery was permitted in some states prior to the pandemic, though regulations stipulated which beverage categories could be sold, whether establishments needed an additional license, and whether they could utilize a third-party delivery service (e.g. UberEats, Grubhub). Some of these regulations may have been relaxed or waived temporarily due to the pandemic.

For example, in some states, alcohol curbside/delivery privileges have been expanded to different types of license holders or to include additional beverage categories like distilled spirits. In other states, such as Nevada and North Dakota, curbside pickup/delivery of alcohol was not explicitly prohibited by state law before the pandemic, but rather, localities either authorized or prohibited curbside pickup/delivery operations within their borders. During the pandemic, some localities temporarily changed regulations to allow curbside pickup/delivery of alcohol in their respective jurisdictions.

Lastly, a few states permitted alcohol delivery prior to the pandemic, but required payment be made on-site/online/over the phone BEFORE a delivery could occur (i.e. money could not exchange hands at the time of alcohol delivery). This requirement has been waived in some jurisdictions during the pandemic either in the original order/rule regarding alcohol availability or successively.