RI lawmakers send to-go alcohol extension bill to McKee’s desk

Business News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A bill that would extend an emergency provision allowing restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages to go is on its way to Gov. Dan McKee’s desk.

The R.I. General Assembly approved the legislation Wednesday, which would allow restaurants to sell certain amounts of beer, wine and mixed drinks with takeout food orders through March 1, 2022.

“While we’re fortunate that many of the COVID restrictions for businesses have been lifted, the restaurant industry in particular continues to suffer from the devastating economic impact of the last year and a half,” said Rep. Jacquelyn Baginski, one of the bill’s sponsors. “Our restaurants are in desperate need of every cent that comes their way. This legislation will help them stay on the road to recovery.”

The bill would allow Class B liquor licenses to sell up to two bottles of wine, 144 ounces of beer, and mixed drinks in original, factory-sealed containers with takeout orders. It would also allow 144 ounces of draft beer or 72 ounces of mixed drinks in growlers, bottles or other sealed containers.

The legislation would not apply to delivery orders.

“Allowing the sale of alcohol to-go has been a much-needed source of revenue for Rhode Island’s restaurants throughout the pandemic, and its extension is a welcome development for our industry and for the many consumers who love having the ability to add their favorite drinks to their takeout orders,” President and CEO of the R.I. Hospitality Association (RIHA) Dale Venturini said.

Venturini said while the RIHA is thankful for the year-long extension, he’s hopeful permanent legislation will be passed in the future.

Former Gov. Gina Raimondo gave restaurants the green light last year to begin selling beer, wine and mixed drinks with takeout orders amid the pandemic.

McKee, who has continued to extend the emergency order past its expiration date, has previously expressed support for the bill, though he has not explicitly said whether he plans to sign it.

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