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To-Go Cocktails And Al Fresco Dining Are Here Through The End Of The Year

Three drinks in old fashioned glasses sit on a wooden bar. One is orange, one is yellow, one is magenta.
To-go cocktails that were allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic could become permanent in California.
(Kobby Mendez/Unsplash)
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California will allow restaurants to offer takeout alcoholic drinks through the end of year.

In March of last year, California wanted to help struggling restaurants. So the state issued a temporary order making it easier for these establishments to sell takeout cocktails, wine and beer. The order had no end date. It simply said "until further notice."

With our June 15 reopening approaching, restaurant owners have been wondering if this boozy new opportunity would disappear. Yesterday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced it won't... at least not yet.

At a press conference on Thursday, he extended the temporary emergency order through the end of the year. Newsom said it would help these businesses "expand their footprint and expand their opportunity to recover from this pandemic and, moreover, to create new business opportunities in the future."

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This should allow two separate bills addressing the sale of to-go cocktails — SB-389 and AB-1242 — to work their way through the state legislature.

Newsom also extended the state's emergency order allowing cities to turn parking lots, sidewalks and streets into al fresco dining areas. AB-773 would allow local authorities to close portions of streets to vehicles and to designate local streets as "slow streets."

If these bills make their way through the California state legislature — and given how much support they have from both politicians and the public, it's likely they will — Newsom will almost certainly sign them. That process can be long and bureaucratic. So extending the emergency orders should give restaurateurs some peace of mind in the short term.