A new state proposal would allow bars and restaurants to continue serving alcohol to-go even after the pandemic ends.
The legislation, introduced Thursday by Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman, seeks to permanently enshrine one of the few, small bright spots during this unrelenting period of awfulness — being able to walk to the window of your local bar and leave with a beer or cocktail in hand.
It includes the same caveats in Governor Andrew Cuomo's order loosening State Liquor Authority rules back in March: requiring that alcohol be sold in sealed containers and accompanied by food. At the time, Cuomo stressed that the measure was only temporary.
The move has proved hugely popular with New Yorkers, as well as many other Americans, long deprived of the sort of outdoor drinking culture found in so many other parts of the world (to be clear, the measure would not legalize open containers in public spaces).
Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently mused on Twitter that, in response to overwhelmingly positive feedback on to-go alcohol, "we may just let this keep on going forever."
A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo's Office did not immediately respond to inquiries about whether he'd support the bill.
The legislation, Hoylman said, is primarily aimed at boosting the state's aching bar and restaurant industry as lockdown restrictions slowly begin to ease. According to one recent survey conducted by the NYC Hospitality Alliance, more than half of all restaurants, bars, clubs, and event venues may be unable to reopen once the public health crisis subsides.
"If we want our favorite bars and restaurants to survive the crisis, we’ve got to help them adapt," said Hoylman.
The proposal got the immediate backing of Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants [ROAR], a new coalition of NYC-based establishments dedicated to the industry's recovery.
"This is an essential need for restaurants struggling to determine if they can even consider reopening and bringing back the hundreds of thousands of workers employed by the industry," Camila Marcus, the group's founder, said in a statement.
Back in March, Jeff Bell of PDT was serving alcohol curbside, and told us, "In a time of crisis, people need some kind of normalcy, and to know a neighborhood institution is out there doing something for them, that's why I'm out here... Seeing people's faces go from gloomy to smiling when they see us out here, that's worth it, that's what it's all about."