LCB rulemaking proposes removal of 42-inch barrier, adds more flexible options

LCB rulemaking proposes removal of 42-inch barrier, adds more flexible options

The Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) has introduced proposed rules to update the 42-inch barrier requirements for establishments with a liquor license. The barriers were intended to separate the space between the bar and the rest of the restaurant; however, they take up additional space that could be used for more family-friendly restaurant seating. The proposed rules will allow liquor licensees greater flexibility in their establishments.

The LCB is currently in a 30-day comment period to receive input about the proposed updates. All comments are due to the LCB Jan. 8 and may be sent to

The LCB will also be holding a hearing on the proposed rule update at 10 a.m. on Jan. 8 in the Board Room of the LCB’s Olympia Headquarters, 1025 Union Ave, Olympia, WA 98504

The Washington Hospitality Association and our members have been working on this issue for more than a year and a half. The notice of proposed rulemaking, public comment period and public hearing are a welcome advancement of this topic. We remain committed to working to provide safe experiences for our guests and to keeping minors from accessing alcohol. The removal of the 42-inch barriers in favor of more flexible options as approved by the LCB will increase traffic flow in restaurants and allow more creativity in restaurant planning and design. The adoption of these rules would be a big win for members.

The proposed rule revisions:

  • Allow options of other than a 42-inch barrier to designate areas classified as off-limits to minors in beer/wine and spirits/beer/wine restaurants;
  • Outline several demarcation options;
  • Clarify that floor plans and demarcation options must be approved by the board;
  • Specifically exclude tape, paint, or stickers on floors, walls or ceilings as demarcation options;
  • Update requirements for “minor prohibited” signs to include the requirements that signage be visible to patrons who are approaching the off-limits areas and once inside the off-limits area.
  • Allow licensees to request reclassification of their off-limits areas as open to minor for regularly scheduled or special events with prior board approval;
  • Make technical and clarifying changes; and
  • Correct an error in WAC 314-03-200

Under the new rules, all licensed premises must have a clear demarcation between dedicated dining areas and areas that are off-limits to minors, rather than the mandatory 42-inch barrier.

Demarcation means a dividing line that must clearly separate the restricted areas from dedicated dining areas. All requirements for 42-inch specific barriers have been removed and the new options available, subject to approval by the board, include:

  • Visibly different and contrasting flooring
  • Steps up or down
  • Walls, half walls, or a 42-inch barrier, where the entrance to the restricted area is not more than ten feet wide
  • Permanently affixed stanchions, pillars, or posts at least six inches wide and places no more than ten feet apart
  • Stationary planters at least six inches wide and placed no more than ten feet apart
  • Permanently affixed floor lighting or beacons at least six inches wide and placed no more than ten feet apart
  • Other demarcation options may be approved at the board’s discretion.

Demarcation does not include tape, paint, or stickers on the floor, walls or ceiling.

To read the proposed rule language, click here.

Help finalize this rule by submitting your comments today. The public comment period is open until Jan. 8. Send comments about this proposal to