STATE TO ALLOW RESTAURANTS TO SELL HARD LIQUOR

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By Bob Katzen

The House and Senate approved and sent to Gov. Baker a bill that would allow restaurants to sell sealed containers of mixed drinks with take-out and delivery orders. A law passed in April allows restaurants and bars to sell limited quantities of beer and wine, in their original containers, with takeout and delivery orders. The order did not include mixed drinks. Restaurants are still barred from serving customers food or drink in their dining rooms under a March executive order from Gov. Charlie Baker.

The proposal requires orders for cocktails to be placed by midnight or earlier if the establishment closes before that. The measure defines mixed drinks as a drink sealed in a container holding up to 64 fluid ounces of liquor and mixer that have been combined.

“Since the start of the COVID-19 emergency, I have heard from our local restaurant owners about the revenue that to-go mixed drinks could generate to help them stay afloat and survive the impacts of the shutdown,” said Sen. Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), the sponsor of the measure. “While many mom and pop establishments have been able to slowly reopen in recent weeks, they still face significant challenges in their efforts to retain employees and pay their bills. While the Legislature does not have a say in the reopening plan during this continued state of emergency, we still have an obligation to use every legislative tool we have to help those that are struggling due to the pandemic. The passage of this bill will greatly help our job creators in the restaurant community, as well as their employees, many of whom have faced challenges with unemployment and uncertainty over whether their jobs will be there for them in the future.”

Bob Luz, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association was elated at the news. He noted that because the Legislature attached an emergency preamble to the bill, it will take effect immediately instead of the usual 90 days.

“The House of Representatives moved swiftly … to move this bill along, and as a result of the emergency preamble, restaurateurs across the state can immediately begin selling mixed drinks to go,” said Luz. “We appreciate the understanding of the dire nature of the business facing the restaurant community today and this action will assist the operators.”

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