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New York Will Extend Its Takeout Cocktail Law For Another Month

The extension comes amid stern warnings from local officials about crowding in some NYC neighborhood hotspots

A restaurant staffer putting a lid on a takeout cocktail at Dante
Dante’s to-go cocktails
Gary He/Eater
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

New York restaurants and bars will be able to continue selling cocktails, wine, and beer to-go for another month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office has confirmed.

A senior advisor to the governor confirmed to the Albany Times-Union on Thursday, June 25 that the state “intends to renew this option” to allow to-go booze. The ability for restaurants and bars to sell to-go alcohol, made possible by an executive order that Cuomo signed in mid-March, has been extended twice already throughout the pandemic. The latest version of the order was set to expire on Saturday, June 27.

Once extended, restaurants and bars in the state will be allowed to sell to-go alcohol for another 30 days. According to the State Liquor Authority’s latest guidance, shops will now be able to sell to-go booze until July 26.

Diners and restaurant owners alike have been pushing to extend the temporary allowance due to the popularity of to-go cocktails, wine, and beer in NYC — even as some customers eschew open container laws and social-distancing rules in public. Owners say it is a lifeline for their businesses that they will continue to depend on even as more dining options open up in the city.

To deal with the widespread social-distancing and public drinking issues, local legislators have issued stern warnings that NYC may go back into lockdown if people aren’t more careful. Cuomo threatened to shut down Manhattan again earlier this month after reports showed crowds of people drinking in the streets without face coverings or six feet of distance between groups. State senator Brad Hoylman, who introduced a bill in May that would allow to-go cocktails to stay on the menu for up to two years after New York’s state of emergency ends, has also reexamined the position after witnessing many examples of customers’ bad behavior in Manhattan.

Hoylman told the Times-Union that he was ultimately in support of Cuomo’s decision to extend the order allowing to-go booze, “but there has to be more enforcement,” he said.

As of last week, restaurants and bars are shouldering more of the responsibility for enforcement. Cuomo recently signed an order stating that any restaurant and bar selling alcohol on-site or to-go is responsible for ensuring that the public follows all local regulations within 100 feet of the shop, including wearing face coverings and remaining six feet apart. The order has some NYC businesses up in arms over what they see as unrealistic expectations for enforcement on sidewalks and other public property.

In other areas of the country, state legislators have already begun rolling back operating allowances for restaurants and bars due to subsequent spikes in new COVID-19 cases. In Florida, the state banned bars from selling alcohol on-site after the number of cases reached record highs this week.

Update, Monday, June 29: This post has been updated to reflect confirmation of the state’s extension of the to-go alcohol allowance.