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To-go cocktails in California could become a permanent thing with bill proposal

Senate Bill 389 builds on a pandemic practice allowing restaurants to serve cocktails for takeaway.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — Cocktails to-go could become a permanent thing in California under newly proposed legislation. 

Senate Bill 389, introduced by State Sen. Bill Dodd, (D-Napa), extends the coronavirus pandemic practice of allowing restaurants to serve cocktails for takeaway and delivery orders.

“Keeping small businesses alive while they do their part to observe COVID-19 restrictions is of paramount importance,” Sen. Dodd said. “If allowing restaurants to sell carryout 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.” 

Restaurants nationwide are experiencing significant hardship due to the pandemic and limits on indoor dining. Restaurants and eateries have lost an estimated $165 billion since March, with seemingly months of more restrictions still ahead. 

However, to-go cocktails have offered something of a bright spot. A survey by the National Restaurant Association found 78% of restaurant owners who began selling take-out alcohol rehired laid-off employees compared to 62% overall. At least 33 states including California are temporarily allowing the sale of to-go cocktails during the pandemic.

SB 389 would make the practice permanent in the state of California. Like now, alcohol would only be able to be sold with food and the proposal adds specific language for ensuring alcohol is not sold to minors. 

“California restaurants remain on serious lock-down, as they are only allowed to utilize extremely limited on-site space,” said Jot Condie, California Restaurant Association president and CEO. “The ability to include cocktails with to-go meals has been helpful for many restaurant owners who are barely hanging on. We applaud Sen. Dodd for his leadership in taking what has been a thoughtful pilot project and establishing it on a longer-term basis.”

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