No longer to go? States are weighing the fate of pandemic-era cocktails and cookouts

As parts of the country lift coronavirus restrictions and reopen in time for summer, states and cities have been debating a shift from the pandemic era to this new normal: expanded barbecues and takeaway cocktails.

Many state governments put in place special regulations during the height of the pandemic to help a decimated restaurant industry, including expanding outdoor seating and selling alcoholic beverages to go. The changes are being very well received not only by the food service industry, but also by customers, some of whom have been under forced closings and others fear of eating inside again.

But as more and more people are vaccinated and states reopen with fewer restrictions, the question now arises whether these changes in restaurant and bar culture will last.

In some places the answer has already come: no.

Pennsylvania unexpectedly ended the expansion of barbecues and takeaway cocktails that had been allowed since last summer earlier this month. New York also said goodbye to its alcohol last week when the pandemic-induced state of emergency expired.

But some places are working to expand the lax rules. Legislators in 15 states have approved the permanent sale of takeaway cocktails.

California will allow restaurants to continue expanding their al fresco dining and takeaway beverage sales by the end of the year.

“As the state embraces life after the pandemic, we will continue to adapt best practices that have helped companies change the customer experience for the better,” Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement on the decision this month.

The announcement came as the state prepared to lift most of its business restrictions and include indoor restaurant service on the 15th. In the meantime, the proposed legislation could extend to-go drinks more permanently.

California Restaurant Association CEO and President Jot Condie said in a statement that the move “will be incredibly valuable to so many neighborhood restaurants across the state.”

In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill allowing take-away cocktails to be sold until next May while extending outdoor seating until next April.

Steve Clark, vice president of government affairs for the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, said the measures have been very popular in the state and are good news for the industry.

Clark said there was “collective relief” that public health data is trending in the right direction and that companies may still have an opportunity to expand cookouts. Restaurants and bars have also shared the value of take-away drinks during the pandemic, he said.

“I think it’s good news to extend it,” he said.

However, not all states want to keep the rules relaxed.

When the state of emergency ended in New York on Thursday, the popular executive order that allowed restaurants and bars to sell alcoholic beverages also ended. The New York State Liquor Authority said in a post on Wednesday afternoon that “temporary pandemic privileges to carry and deliver alcoholic beverages will end” with the end of the state of emergency.

The state was considering legislation to temporarily extend take-away drinks but did not act on it prior to the meeting.

“We know that the sudden abandonment of take-away alcohol will affect many restaurants and bars that depend on this new source of income and will be a disappointment for customers who love popular politics,” said Nueva City. York. The Hospitality Alliance announced in a statement on the contribution of the authority for alcoholic beverages. The group said it would continue to advocate the return of this important and popular policy in the next legislature.

In Pennsylvania that month, along with the state’s declaration of emergency, the pandemic-era rules that allowed takeaway cocktail sales and extended cookouts expired. A bill has been passed between the Republican-controlled legislature and Democratic Governor Tom Wolf to permanently introduce take-away cocktails due to opposition to recently added regulations.

The Pennsylvania Alcoholic Beverage Control Board sent a letter to licensees stating.

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