Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Wednesday plans to introduce legislation permanently allowing the sale of to-go alcoholic beverages. First permitted at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to support the restaurant industry during the lockdown, the state ended takeout cocktails last June, coinciding with the lift of Covid-related restrictions. Legalizing the sale of to-go drinks will help local restaurants and bars recover from the pandemic, according to Hochul’s proposal. “Cheers, New York,” Hochul said Wednesday during her State of the State address.
The State Liquor Authority first implemented the temporary change when the State of Emergency was declared and shuttered restaurants for indoor dining in March of 2020. This allowed businesses to sell to-go alcoholic beverages, including wine and liquor for the first time, as long as it was with a food purchase.
When it became clear takeout and delivery drinks help struggling restaurants bring in revenue, the industry and some public officials called for the law change to become permanent. State Sen. Brad Hoylman introduced legislation to make to-go drinks permanent last year, but it failed to pass this summer.
Hochul’s proposal is one component of her “Billion Dollar Rescue Plan” for small businesses, introduced on Wednesday during her State of the State address. In addition to to-go drinks, the governor is calling for a tax credit for businesses that took on Covid-related expenses, funding for new small businesses, a reduction in interest rates and providing for accessible loans to expanding small businesses, and more.
“Cheers to Governor Hochul for announcing her support to permanently bring back drinks to go at restaurants and bars,” Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement.
“The drinks to go policy provides critically important revenue streams to struggling restaurants and bars and is extraordinarily popular with the public, unsurprisingly. We commend Governor Hochul for her leadership, and we look forward to toasting her administration and the state legislature once this important policy is reinstated.”
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