RI to let restaurants sell takeout beer, wine amid COVID-19 crisis


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Hours after announcing she was looking into the policy, Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed an executive order allowing restaurants to sell takeout beer and wine.

The order comes as restaurants have been forced to suspend dine-in services due to the coronavirus pandemic. Delivery, takeout and drive-through service can continue.

Raimondo’s Friday night executive order acknowledges the devastating impact the temporary restrictions are having on the food industry.

The executive order notes that “restaurants, bars and other establishments that serve food are a vital part of Rhode Island’s hospitality industry and the inability of such establishments that hold Class B liquor licenses to sell alcoholic beverages is adversely impacting these businesses.”

It argues that “the ability to sell wine or beer with an order of food for off-premises consumption will provide a measure of temporary economic relief to establishments impacted by the COVID-19 emergency.”

The executive order allows local restaurants to sell up to two bottles of wine or 144 ounces of beer in their original, sealed containers. In a news release, the Rhode Island Hospitality Association said restaurants will not be allowed to deliver alcohol.

“In this really difficult time, we appreciate Governor Raimondo’s leadership and willingness to work with our industry to ease current restrictions on beer/wine take-out sales, and provide an additional relief option to our industry, ” said Dale Venturini, President & CEO of the RI Hospitality Association and the RI Hospitality Education Foundation, in a statement. “We are also thankful to the Rhode Island legislature for their collaboration to get this done. We ask that all restaurants that participate operate to the letter of the law so that our entire industry, who can participate, will benefit.”

Rick Simone, Executive Director of the Federal Hill Commerce Association, added, “The restaurant and hospitality industry is need of all the support it can get right now. This addition of being able to sell wine and beer could make a difference in revenues to keep staff on, pay for healthcare, rent or a mortgage. Every bit helps. We are grateful to the Governor and all of her team that considered this need and made it happen.”

The order takes effect immediately and stays in place until March 30.

Separately on Friday night, the governor’s office said she had signed another executive order “extending the time period from seven days to 30 days for police departments to conduct background checks for concealed weapons and firearms.” The Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association had requested the action due to a recent surge in gun sales.

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