Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signs bill making pandemic drinks-to-go permanent

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signs bill making pandemic drinks-to-go permanent
Drinks must be sealed before sale and cannot be consumed on the premises. (Source: WVUE)

COLUMBUS (Cincinnati Enquirer) - Carryout cocktails will continue in Ohio after the threat of the novel coronavirus is gone.

Gov. Mike DeWine signed a pair of alcohol-related bills on Tuesday. One made permanent a rule allowing bars and restaurants to sell drinks with to-go meal orders, according to our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer. Carry-out drinks were approved in early April as a way to support the struggling bar and restaurant industry after dining rooms were closed in March.

The new law allows customers to order up to three drinks to go with a food order. Drinks must be sealed before sale and cannot be consumed on the premises.

Bars and restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms in March, have been limited in how many people they can serve since May and were barred from sales after 10 p.m. since July. A recent Ohio Restaurant Association survey of restaurant owners and operators found 4 out of 5 won’t break even this year. Half don’t expect their business to survive into 2021 if conditions don’t change, according to our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The law also allows liquor permit holders to expand the area where they sell alcoholic beverages and outdoor spaces where patrons can drink through Dec. 21, 2022.

The second alcohol bill was sponsored by Rep. Catherine Ingram, a Democrat from the Cincinnati neighborhood of Mount Auburn, as a way to help alcoholic ice cream makers like Maineville’s Buzzed Bull Creamery broaden their reach.

The new law allows ice cream makers to ship their boozy concoctions to customers and stores licensed to sell beer and liquor, according to our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer.

A bevy of alcohol provisions were added to the bill, including doubling the number of outdoor refreshment areas for municipalities with less than 50,000 residents. Bars and restaurants can expand alcohol sales in spaces adjacent to the property, but only until DeWine ends his state of emergency or Dec. 1, whichever comes first. A microdistillery can now sell four 750ml bottles of liquor per customer per day instead of two bottles.

The bills received some pushback from addiction support groups and others concerned about the expansion of Ohio’s alcohol laws without evaluating all the effects.

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