SAN FRANCISCO — There’s one pandemic change that Californians are sure to toast to: The to-go cocktail.
California Governor Gavin Newsom says the state will allow restaurants to continue selling takeout alcohol and keep expanded-outdoor dining until Dec. 31.
“With new opportunities and support for businesses large and small and the California can-do spirit that has carried us through the past year, we will come roaring back from this pandemic,” Newsom said.
Restaurants turned to takeout and outdoor seating during the last year as coronavirus restrictions limited indoor service. The state's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control relaxed regulations to allow them to keep selling alcohol.
The move was pivotal for Raymond James Irwin's business, Fizz, a champagne bar in Sacramento's Downtown Commons. When he couldn't serve indoors, he faced the potential of shuttering.
“Having this terrace when we couldn’t even be opened inside, made the world of difference," Irwin said.
The Downtown Sacramento Partnership estimates 10% of downtown businesses shuttered during the pandemic, said Emilie Cameron, a spokesperson for the business group.
The partnership along with many downtown business and customers say they would like to see this permanently.
California is set to drop all capacity limits on businesses, indoor and outdoor, on June 15. Still, the state-level relief measures permitting restaurants and bars to continue outdoor dining in sidewalks and parking lots and to continue the sale of to-go alcoholic beverages with food deliveries will remain. Newsom is also urging local governments to follow suit in continuing to allow outdoor dining and the sale of to-go cocktails.
Newsom's announcement will also allow bars to continue to partner with food trucks, catering companies and restaurants to sell meals with their beverages. Wineries and breweries can continue to partner with restaurants to host virtual dinners with wine and beer pairings as well.
While wine tasting dinners can stay, the order did not include the continuance of virtual wine tastings. Other pandemic innovations that will go away for restaurants, bars and other food and beverage locations after June 30 include drive-thru windows for businesses that previously didn't have one, changes in retail sales, delivery hours until midnight and distilleries providing spirits for disinfection purposes.
Watch the full announcement: