More states push to make alcohol to-go sales permanent

As businesses were forced to close to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, KC Daiquiri Shop co-owners Calvin Vick and Kinley Strickland weren’t sure if they would survive the pandemic. 

“We didn’t know what we were going to do,” Strickland told Fox News. “We didn’t know what the future of business was going to be like.”

The business suffered because people stopped coming in. Both Vick and Strickland were forced to lay off their employees as a result of the loss in revenue.

But, that all changed after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed an executive order this past March allowing restaurants and bars to serve alcohol for takeout. 

“That saved our business,” Vick said. “We noticed that business started picking up and we started getting new faces.”

Parson’s temporary order was meant to help businesses cut losses and to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Some state leaders in Missouri, however, said they’ve wanted the temporary orders to become permanent legislation.

“Missouri likes to claim that we are pro-business, and this kind of legislation would ensure that we’re pro-business by making sure our small businesses and micro businesses have access to resources,” said Ashley Bland Manlove, a Democrat in the Missouri House of Representatives.  “This will be a great way for them to continue to get revenue while we all have to distance ourselves.”

And, Missouri is not alone. As the country continues reopening its economies and exploring options to bounce back from the pandemic, more states have been considering permanent alcohol-to-go laws.

Currently, more than 30 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have implemented emergency measures for restaurants and bars to serve cocktails for delivery and takeout, according to data from the National Restaurant Association.

Critics, however, argued that mixing alcohol with takeout was a recipe for disaster.

The Mothers Against Drunk Driving [MADD] Heartland Chapter told Fox News in a statement,  “a permanent change to allow curbside alcohol sales could violate open container laws and lead to an increase in drunk driving.”

But, the National Restaurant Association argued that permanent alcohol to-go sales could help restaurants survive during the health crisis.

So far, the restaurant industry has lost over eight million jobs and roughly $120 billion in lost revenue,” National Restaurant Association EVP of Public Affairs Sean Kennedy told Fox News during an interview. “Being able to offer these new products like off-premise sales of alcohol represents up to 10 percent of their revenue right now. From an industry that’s on the ropes working with capacity restrictions – that’s absolutely critical.”

Temporary orders are set to remain in effect in Missouri until the end of the year, with state leaders deciding next year whether to make to-go alcoholic drinks permanent.

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