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California lawmaker hopes to make to-go cocktails permanent

Virus Outbreak California Daily Life
Posted at 11:45 AM, Feb 12, 2021

(KGTV) — A California lawmaker is hoping to make to-go cocktails permanent in an effort to help restaurants hit hard by the pandemic.

Senate Bill 389, introduced by state Sen. Bill Dodd, (D-Napa), would allow restaurants with a liquor license to "exercise additional off-sale rights and privileges," which include selling alcoholic beverages to-go in prepackaged containers.

The bill would allow to-go drinks in manufacturer prepackaged containers or, "not in manufacturer prepackaged containers if specified conditions are met, including that the beverages be sold in conjunction with meals prepared for pickup or delivery, as specified, and be packaged in a container with a secure lid or cap."

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Dodd hopes the bill offers restaurateurs dealing with losses in revenue another option to generate sales. According to the National Restaurant Association, about one-third of takeout customers over the age of 21 said they’d order an alcoholic beverage to-go with their takeout meals and will continue to do so while the offer is available.

"Keeping small businesses alive while they do their part to observe COVID-19 restrictions is of paramount importance," Dodd said in a statement. "If allowing restaurants to sell carry out cocktails alongside a meal helps keep their doors open, we must do it. Ultimately, it’s about preserving jobs and getting our economy back on track."

According to Dodd, restaurants nationwide have lost about $165 million since last March when the pandemic forced lockdowns and restrictions on dining. Last year, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control loosened some restrictions to help businesses generate revenue off alcohol sales, allowing alcoholic drinks to be sold to-go if accompanied by food.

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Dodd's proposal seeks to make those changes permanent, and ensure that ABC enforces safeguards against selling alcohol to minors.

Jot Condie, president and CEO of the California Restaurant Association, said the bill will also help combat limited space being allowed for on-site dining under current business restrictions.

"California restaurants remain on serious lock-down, as they are only allowed to utilize extremely limited on-site space," said Condie. "The ability to include cocktails with to-go meals has been helpful for many restaurant owners who are barely hanging on."

Currently, 33 states including California are temporarily allowing to-go cocktail sales due to the pandemic.