EDITORIAL: State should allow permanent delivery of cocktails

Olivia Parra, a member of Schenectady Wine Fairies, delivers a bag with a bottle of wine to a home on Hulett Street on Thursday.
Olivia Parra, a member of Schenectady Wine Fairies, delivers a bag with a bottle of wine to a home on Hulett Street on Thursday.

If there’s one good thing to come out of the pandemic for New York businesses, it’s the realization that maybe we don’t need so many regulations on them.

While state government imposed many restrictions on businesses in an attempt to stem the spread of the deadly virus, it also lifted some regulations that hampered the operation of businesses and encouraged practices that could lead to more business and lower costs.

For instance, the indoor restrictions encouraged businesses to make more use of outdoor areas, expanding their business footprints and allowing them to offer different dining options. The state also encouraged and allowed curbside pickup, creating a whole new avenue of revenue for stores and delivery services.

In that spirit, one regulation the state should permanently eliminate is the prohibition against delivery of alcohol.

The suspension of the regulation last year provided a lifeline to local bars and restaurants that either couldn’t open or could only open with very limited capacity. The allowance has been extended by the governor on a regular basis throughout the covid crisis.

The New York Restaurant Association, not surprisingly, supports permanently lifting the ban on alcohol deliveries.

But so do many New Yorkers, who took advantage of the convenience of ordering their cocktails with their food deliveries throughout the crisis. A poll conducted by the Restaurant Association last July showed 86% of New Yorkers favored permanent authorization of the service.

A bill introduced in the Legislature last year (A10550/S8392) and reintroduced this year (A3116) would allow for any business licensed to sell alcohol via retail on-premises to also sell it through delivery or takeout for off-premises consumption. The bill would take effect when the state of emergency is lifted and be in effect for two years.

Under the legislation, alcohol would have to be sold in sealed containers and businesses would have to follow county rules of operation, as is required under the current executive orders.

Businesses that violate their liquor licenses could face suspension or revocation. The bill also would require community and local government input and regular consultation to address abuses, such as violation of open-container laws.

A two-year extension would give businesses some stability in setting their business practices. It also would give the state and counties time to evaluate potential problems locally and establish regulations to curb those problems.

If cocktail delivery helped businesses during the pandemic, why wouldn’t the state want to continue to help them after the pandemic is over?

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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