OCEAN TOWNSHIP - The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today approved legislation introduced by Senator Vin Gopal that would allow licensed restaurants and bars to sell alcoholic beverages through takeout and delivery and allow distilleries to sell alcoholic beverages through takeout during the current state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the bill (S2413), all drinks must be delivered or made available in a container with a tamper-proof seal. Restaurants and bars would also be permitted to sell alcoholic cocktails and mixed drinks. These drinks must be delivered or sold in closed or sealed containers that hold 16 fluid ounces or less each. Any other alcoholic beverage may be sold or delivered in containers of any size.
These establishments would also be permitted to continue delivering these alcoholic beverages for six months after the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency, or after these establishments are no longer limited by occupancy or customer seating restrictions, whichever comes later.
“Restaurants and our hospitality businesses have been uniquely impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis, and we need to do all we can to help this vital industry stay afloat,” said Senator Gopal (D-Long Branch). “With dining rooms and bars closed across our state, it makes no sense to ban restaurants and craft beverage manufacturers from offering alcoholic beverages for takeout and delivery, especially when liquor stores are already empowered to do the same. Allowing them to continue selling cocktails and other beverages directly to customers would be a small way to help this hard-hit industry regain some of the revenues they've lost.”
The bill would also exempt alcohol used to produce hand sanitizer from the state alcoholic beverage tax, and allow distilleries that have already paid these taxes on alcohol used to produce hand sanitizer to receive refunds on their payments.
The bill now proceeds to the floor of the Senate for a full vote.