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Amid Restaurant and Bar Closures, Northeast Operators Receive Carry-Out Sales Waiver

March 17, 2020

Yesterday’s announcement from the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut that all restaurant and bars must suspend on-premise sales effective today in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak also provides a limited-time waiver for some licensees, along with producers, to sell their products for off-premise consumption.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont ordered the on-premise shutdowns following reports of crowded bars over the weekend leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, and noted that with the three states in such close proximity, there’s a need for a common set of rules. Restaurants can remain open for take-out and delivery food services only.

“We’re working with states to explore creative solutions for on- and off-premise establishments, such as easing regulations in states to permit curbside pick-up and home delivery to adults of legal purchase age,” said Distilled Spirits Council president and CEO Chris Swonger. “For example, in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, bars and restaurants will be provided a waiver for carry-out alcohol, effective at 8 p.m. this evening (March 16).”

Cuomo called the waivers a “silver lining. Whatever you can order in a bar, restaurant, distillery or winery, you can purchase through takeout. We hope that goes a long way toward alleviating any economic hardship.” Cuomo encouraged New Yorkers to “stay home and order from your favorite restaurant, bar, winery or whatever establishment you were thinking of patronizing. Just order it and stay home.”

According to the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s website, “if alcoholic beverages are to be sold from a restaurant, dining establishment or bar with a liquor license, such sales shall be limited to original containers sold from the principal public barroom. All retail sales of alcoholic beverages by limited brewery licensees, restricted brewery licensees, plenary and farm winery licensees, craft distillery licensees, and cidery and meadery licensees must be in original containers and must be delivered by licensed entities and/or by customer pick up.”—Terri Allan

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