New Hanover County Approves of Phase 2 Outdoor Seating Guidance for ABC Permit Holders in Unincorporated New Hanover County

Posted May 27, 2020 at 5:11 pm     Category: County ManagerEmergency ManagementNews ReleasePublic HealthSheriff

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – On May 24, 2020, the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Commission issued guidelines to temporarily allow on-premises ABC permit holders to include additional outdoor seating as part of their licensed premises if that space is approved by the appropriate local government entity and law enforcement.

This only applies to permit holders who are allowed to open under Phase 2 of the Governor’s Safer at Home Order. And the permit holder must either own the property where the additional seating is allowed or obtain the written permission of the owner.

According to the ABC Commission: “This temporary change is allowed to maximize social distancing. The guidelines do not override any order from Governor Cooper, the NC Department of Health and Human Services, or any local ordinances. In the event that North Carolina reverts to Phase 1, these guidelines are invalid during that time period.”

In order to temporarily extend a premises, the permit holder must receive approval from the appropriate local government entity, notify their ALE agent, the District ALE office or local law enforcement. An application for a temporary extension is not needed.

Given this temporary guidance, New Hanover County Government has provided a general approval letter for all holders of an on-premises ABC permit within the unincorporated area of New Hanover County. If a permit holder follows all guidance, this allows them to be able to include additional outdoor seating as part of their licensed premises. A copy of this approval letter, signed by County Manager Chris Coudriet, can be found here.

“We wanted to make this process as simple as possible, so restaurants could offer additional and safe seating, without each business having to contact the county for approval,” said County Manager Chris Coudriet. “However, it is a requirement by the ABC Commission that the permittee contact local law enforcement, so we’ve worked with Sheriff McMahon to make that easy as well – through a quick email notification. We are all eager to help our businesses and this is one step in that plan of moving forward together.”

Prior to a business using an extended area for outdoor seating and alcohol consumption, the permit holder must notify Lieutenant J. Jewell of the ABC unit of the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office by email with their name, business name, and business address.

ABC Permit Holders located in the City of Wilmington or the towns of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach, will need to contact their individual municipal government and law enforcement entities for approval and notifications.

View additional information, including the ABC Commission’s guidelines here.


As of 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, there have been 171 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County. For more information about COVID-19 in New Hanover County, visit, call our Public Health Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800, and follow the county’s trusted social media pages: TwitterFacebook,  Instagram, and Nextdoor.

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