Got Used to Your #Quarantinis? New Legislation Could Allow Continued Alcohol Takeout & Delivery from NY Restaurants and Bars

The frozen margaritas and #quarantinis you’ve enjoyed with your takeout and delivery meals during the pandemic could become a permanent fixture with legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) and State Senator Brian Benjamin (D-Manhattan).

With the restaurant and hospitality industry looking for ways to stay afloat despite the devastating losses of the last few months, the lawmakers’ bill (A.10534A/S.8565) would allow restaurants and bars to sell and deliver serving sizes of wine, mead and other alcoholic beverages for consumption off the premises. Customers must also buy food. Bottle sales will not be permitted, eliminating any competition with liquor stores.

The novel coronavirus took an immense toll on the restaurant and hospitality industry in New York State. More than 50% of businesses are unsure if they will re-open, and almost 4% predict they will permanently close.

“This sensible and popular solution wouldn’t pit restaurant owners against liquor stores, and helps people support local restaurants and bars responsibly while health precautions and concerns about a second potential spike (as we’re seeing in other cities and states around the country) remain in place,” said Assemblyman Cymbrowitz.

“Restaurants are a valued part of our local communities, and I am excited to help them to succeed in the difficult times we are all facing under the coronavirus pandemic. We all look forward to the time when things return to normal, but meanwhile, it's just good sense to remove unnecessary obstacles and uncertainties,” said Senator Benjamin.

According to surveys conducted by the NYS Restaurant Association and NYC Hospitality Alliance, the food service industry lost an estimated $3.6 billion in sales in April 2020, representing a 79% percent decline from the previous April. Restaurants and food service jobs constitute 9% of the state's workforce and more than 527,000 restaurant employees, or about 80%, have been laid off or furloughed.

In March, Governor Cuomo announced that the State Liquor Authority would change its rules during the shutdown to allow restaurants and bars to sell their products off premises, as long as food was involved and in accordance with open container laws. This legislation would make these changes permanent.

“Restaurants and bars have been financially devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and allowing them to sell alcohol to go has not only proved popular among New Yorkers but has been a financial lifeline to so many struggling small businesses and should continue,” said Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. “We thank Assemblyman Cymbrowitz and Senator Benjamin for their leadership and support of our beloved restaurants and bars during these trying times.”