Florida becomes the latest state to approve Alcohol To-Go Sales

To-go Delivery Photo – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Twinsterphoto

Food to go has been a popular choice for diners who wanted to skip the in-restaurant experience or preferred to eat at home for decades. And it only became more popular during the pandemic due to restaurant closures, curfews, and sanitary concerns.

Now, to-go eaters can take their “doggy bags” home with a side of their favorite booze in the state of Florida.

The Sunshine State became the latest state to approve a measure that will allow to-go customers or delivery services to carry out cocktails with dinner service.

Florida is now the 11th state in the nation, joining Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Montana, Arkansas, West Virginia, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, and the District of Columbia, to approve the to-go measure a permanent fixture moving forward.

Alcohol to-go became a staple for many restaurants during the pandemic to assist struggling businesses.

Last spring, Gov. Ron DeSantis placed a temporary executive order allowing restaurants and bars to sell alcoholic beverages “to-go” to help offset the business lost during the shutdown.

As we covered a few months back, the emergency order required the establishments to provide a “sealed container” in the order to supersede the open container law in the state. Essentially, the order allowed patrons to transport the beverages from the restaurants to their homes or place of dining during the quarantine period to help boost sales for restaurants.

After the order was temporarily put into place, two Florida state senators, Sen. Jennifer Bradley, R-Fleming Island, and Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg filed separate measures to make the practice a permanent fixture. 

According to the SB 148 bill text, the booze must be placed in secured containers and placed in locked compartments out of the reach of any passenger. In other words, the bag must be placed in the trunk or behind the last upright seat in the vehicle away from arm’s reach.

The law requires cutting off the sale of all qualifying to-go drinks when the businesses’ scheduled food service ends for the day or at midnight, whichever occurs first.

“Governor DeSantis was an early supporter of cocktails to-go as an avenue to help Florida restaurants and bars during the pandemic. Cocktails to-go provided a much-needed lifeline for struggling hospitality businesses and prevented the permanent closure of many,” said Jay Hibbard, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States Senior Vice President of State Government Relations. “Now that this measure is permanent, bars and restaurants will have increased stability as they begin the long path to recovery. We applaud the Florida Legislature and Governor DeSantis for supporting local businesses and for providing increased convenience to consumers.”

The bill was signed into law by the governor on May 13, 2021, and is effective July 1, 2021.

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