Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has signed two bills extending the state’s “cocktails to go” policy, which allowed bars and restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages for takeout during the pandemic.
On Monday evening, Youngkin signed HB426 and SB254, which will extend cocktails to go until July 1, 2024. The temporary measure was designed to increase “support for hospitality businesses struggling to rebound from the harsh economic impacts of COVID-19,” according to a news release from the governor’s office.
The cocktails to go measure was set to expire on July 1 of this year.
“Virginia’s bars and restaurants can rest a bit easier knowing cocktails to go are here to stay for another two years,” said David Wojnar, senior vice president and head of state public policy for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, in the release.
The Virginia House had passed HB426 on Feb. 2.
Due largely to the economic impact of restrictions on indoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 35 states have passed measures allowing restaurants and bars to sell cocktails to go as a way to keep revenue coming in.
Restaurants who have struggled economically during the pandemic say the program has allowed them to rehire bartenders and continue relationships with their customers.
Some state lawmakers, however, have been resistant to making the laws permanent, citing public safety as a concern.
At least 35 states have allowed restaurants and bars to sell cocktails to go as a relief measure via executive orders or other temporary measures.
Since the program began, 18 states and Washington, D.C., have passed laws to make it permanent. Twelve states have enacted laws allowing the program to continue on a temporary basis.