In the Wake of COVID-19 Shutdowns, NYC Bars Will Be Allowed to Sell Takeout Alcohol

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In the Wake of COVID-19 Shutdowns, NYC Bars Will Be Allowed to Sell Takeout Alcohol

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has already had devastating effects upon the dining and bar industries in many American cities; few more than New York City, one of the most active hotspots for the COVID-19 outbreak. In NYC, where bars and restaurants have been ordered to close for everything except takeout orders as of Monday night, the situation is particularly grim for small businesses.

There is, however, a rather unusual silver lining in this case: According to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the state’s Liquor Authority will make the unprecedented move of changing its rules during the period of shutdown, in order to allow bars, restaurants, wineries and distilleries to sell alcohol to go.

“Stay home and order from your favorite restaurant, order from your favorite bar, order from your favorite winery, order from whatever establishment that you were thinking of patronizing,” said Cuomo in a Monday statement.

Further details were meant to follow, but it’s still fuzzy as to how many aspects of this “to-go” alcohol are supposed to work. After all, most NYC bars aren’t actively outfitted to sell to-go drinks, because the practice isn’t legal in the city as it is in areas of cities such as New Orleans. One would think that the types of drinks the average NYC bar could sell as “to go” would be very limited. Bottles or cans or beer would work, sure, but how is someone supposed to order a draft beer to go? Or a glass of wine? Or mixed drinks? Most NYC bars lack even the basic to-go cups that would be necessary to sell alcohol in this way. Compounding matters is the existence of liquor delivery apps such as Drizly, which can already bring alcohol to a customer’s home.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the burden of figuring out the new system will fall on the bars and restaurants. Hopefully, they’ll be able to take advantage of whatever new privileges they’re being given to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic intact.

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