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Virginia Beach City Council suspends alcohol tax for businesses while COVID-19 restrictions linger

Virginia Beach restaurant and bar owners will be able to save hundreds due to the alcohol tax suspension.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — On Wednesday, some more Virginia Beach business owners who sell alcohol found out they are getting a tax break this year. 

Virginia Beach city council approved a new ordinance to suspend the local alcohol tax at Tuesday's city council meeting. 

City leaders approved the measure in an effort to help save money while state COVID-19 estrictions remain through February.

Workers at the Chesapeake Bay Distillery are in good spirits. They don’t have to pay a local alcohol tax for the 2021 year.

“We saved $750.00 today," said Chesapeake Bay Distillery Owner Chris Richeson.   

Richeson explained they had to make changes to operations because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“Our tasting room has been closed for almost half the year and that’s a significant loss of revenue," said Richeson. 

However, Richeson is not the only business owner saving money. 

“The fact that there is just over 1500 businesses that are affected by this. They include restaurants, caterers, distilleries, anyone who has an ABC license to dispense," said Virginia Beach Commissioner of the Revenue Philip Kellam. 

Kellam pointed out this new ordinance could cost the city about $325,000 in lost revenue. But, Kellam says the city will get the money back using a federal grant.

“It is money that could come from the CARES Act funding that they have received. So it’s a win-win for the community," said Kellam. 

Kellam added some business owners have already paid their taxes. He explained that he will be able to refund the business owners. 

“It’s a drop in the bucket compared to what the loss of some of these guys have had, but every little bit helps, and I’m praying for you guys out there and keep supporting your local restaurants and spirits," Kellam said.

Richeson is working out plans to try to open the tasting room of his distillery this year.