The broader trend towards teetotaling notwithstanding, “to-go” cocktails served as a much-needed saving grace for many restaurants during the pandemic.
In New York State, politicians, consumers, and industry trade groups are currently doing battle on whether to make the measure permanent.
On March 16th of last year, Andrew Cuomo became the first governor to permit the sale of to-go alcohol during the mandatory closure of restaurants and bars. Dozens of other states quickly followed suit.
In New York, the rule must be extended every thirty days and is currently up for renewal at the end of the week. There is scant agreement on whether the measure should hold.
- On one hand, proponents say it is a needed measure to help stave off continued suffering in the restaurant industry (an estimated 90k U.S. restaurants have closed their doors either permanently or long-term during the pandemic).
- On the other side of the table, not surprisingly, are liquor stores. The New York State Association of PBAs, a coalition of law-enforcement unions, issued a memo opposing the extension of alcohol-to-go because of the potential to increase drunken driving now that travel is increasing after the pandemic.
And Around The Country?
New York is not alone. Last week Nebraska joined 14 states and DC by approving measures to allow restaurants to sell to-go cocktails permanently after the success of temporary initiatives during the pandemic.
Six other states have approved extending the temporary measure until at least 2022, while 15 others are currently weighing active bills.
The people have spoken. A poll commissioned by the New York State Restaurant Association found 78% of the 700 voters surveyed last month supported continuing alcohol-to-go.