Changes Coming to Washington’s Barrier Requirements for Restaurants and Other On-Premises Liquor Licensees

Legal Alert

On August 8, 2018, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (“WSLCB”) announced that it has entered into an initial stage of rulemaking to revise the rules that pertain to barrier requirements and the designation of areas where minors are not allowed in establishments licensed for on-premises alcohol consumption. The sections of the Washington Administrative Code that may be subject to revision through the rulemaking process include Chapter 314-02 (Requirements for Retail Liquor Licensees) and Chapter 314-03 (Allowed Activities).

Current WSLCB Barrier Requirements 

Currently, Washington liquor licensees, including holders of retail or non-retail liquor licenses that serve alcohol for consumption at their licensed location, must place barriers around areas that are classified as off-limits to individuals under the age of 21, around game rooms, and around outdoor seating areas, with some limited exceptions.

The current key requirements are as follows: 

  • Barriers must be at least 42 inches high.
  • Barriers must be permanently affixed (moveable ropes and stanchions are not acceptable).
  • Openings to minor restricted areas cannot be wider than 10 feet.
  • Barriers cannot also serve as a counter for customers to sit or stand and consume food or liquor.

If your business, future business plans, or construction and design concepts have been or are being directly impacted by WSLCB’s barrier requirements, we encourage you to submit written feedback to WSLCB for their consideration in revising the barrier rules.

Submit Preliminary Comments Now 

Although the WSLCB has not yet proposed specific rule amendments at this stage, stakeholders may now submit written comments highlighting changes that should be contained in the updated barrier rules. The deadline for submitting initial comments is October 17, 2018. Comments are being accepted by mail, email or fax as follows:

By mail:
Rules Coordinator
Liquor and Cannabis Board   
P.O. Box 43080
Olympia, WA 98504-3080
By e-mail:
By fax:


Following the comment period, the WSLCB will publish its proposed rules, establish another comment period on the proposed rules, and hold a public hearing before the rules are adopted.


If you have questions regarding Washington’s existing barrier requirements or would like assistance preparing initial comments to WSLCB’s proposed rulemaking, please contact one of the listed attorneys.


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