Cooper’s proposed alcoholic “drinks to go” order makes sense

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Reporters Matthew Burns and Paul Specht reported on this afternoon that Gov. Roy Cooper sent a draft order to other Council of State members today that “would allow restaurants and bars to sell mixed drinks for takeout and delivery to limit the spread of coronavirus.”

As the report explains:

“The proposal directs the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to waive any state regulations that would prevent people from obtaining a mixed drink in a sealed container as a takeout order or prevent employees and contractors, such as food delivery services, from transporting such alcoholic beverages in sealed containers to customers.”

To which all a caring and thinking person can say in response is “it’s about time.”

While it’s true that allowing alcoholic drinks to be transported offsite from restaurants and bars is a policy that’s not without risks, it’s also likely that — with careful attention to reasonable guidelines — such risks will be very minimal. This is especially true given that the proposed order includes several protections. Again, this is from the WRAL story:

The to-go drinks proposal would be limited to one drink per person per order, and everybody participating in the order must be present to accept delivery. No orders could be taken or delivered after the time at which the restaurant or bar would normally cut off sales under local laws. Also, no orders are allowed to university campus residence halls or in communities where alcohol sales are prohibited.

Delivery drivers must be at least 21 years old and have to undergo training before being allowed to deliver to-go drinks. They would be responsible for verifying the identity and age of everyone receiving a drink and determining if anyone is too intoxicated to get a drink, according to the proposal.

The drinks wouldn’t have to be part of a food takeout or delivery order.

The proposed order would be in effect through the end of January. A start date wasn’t included in the draft.

Of course, the biggest beneficiary of the order is likely to be the restaurant industry, which has been suffering mightily during the pandemic. One hopes the proposal will go into effect ASAP, that it is a success, and that it ultimately stays on the books indefinitely.

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