Certain alcohol sales methods allowed by the Governor’s emergency order during the pandemic will now be permanent
Thursday, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law Senate Bill 148, which authorizes restaurants, or vendors of alcoholic beverages also holding a public food service license, to sell or deliver alcoholic beverages prepared by the vendor in sealed containers. The bill extends additional sales options, commonly referenced as alcohol-to-go, that are similar to measures implemented by emergency orders of Governor DeSantis during Florida’s state of emergency related to COVID-19.
“Alcoholic drinks to-go became an important source of revenue for restaurants that were trying to survive during the pandemic,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “This law is an important measure to continue the positive economic impacts of a temporary order. I want to thank the Legislature, but particularly Senator Jennifer Bradley and Representative Josie Tomkow, for being ready and willing to create common sense reforms that got government out of the way and increased opportunity for Florida businesses.”
Governor DeSantis signed the bill at Houligan’s Sports Grille, an Ormond Beach-area restaurant that relied on the allowances of the Governor’s prior emergency orders over the past year as an added source of revenue during challenges associated with the pandemic.“Alcohol-to-go has been a lifeline to our restaurants during the pandemic,” said Senator Jennifer Bradley. “Not surprisingly, this is a popular option for customers who want the restaurant experience when ordering to-go. As we emerge from the pandemic, this option that has helped our restaurants survive financially should be permanent. Thank you to Governor DeSantis for signing this important legislation to do just that and support our hardworking restaurant industry and its customers.”
“Some of the hardest hit businesses throughout the pandemic have been our local restaurants,” said Representative Josie Tomkow. “Through the proactive leadership of Governor DeSantis and his executive order to allow the sale of alcohol-to-go, many Florida restaurants were able to increase sales and continue to keep their doors open. I’m thankful to the Governor for his support of this common-sense measure that allows for restaurants to continue to offer alcohol-to-go as an option. This pro-consumer, business-friendly bill will help support our restaurant industry and its tens of thousands of employees.”
“I applaud Governor DeSantis on signing this historic piece of legislation that will greatly benefit our bar and restaurant license holders throughout the state,” said DBPR Secretary Julie I. Brown. “The law allows businesses to meet customer needs by providing the ability and convenience of serving alcohol-to-go, and I am pleased that Florida is actively adapting to meet the evolving customer and business needs in the industry.”
Under Senate Bill 148, an eligible vendor that sells or delivers alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption must hold a public food service license, ensure the sale or delivery of alcoholic beverages is accompanied by the sale of food in the same order, and comply with sealing and packaging requirements established in the bill. The vendor, or the agent or employee of the vendor making the delivery, is also responsible for verifying and documenting valid proof of the recipient’s identity and age at the time of delivery pursuant to provisions of Florida’s Beverage Law regarding deliveries.
“Florida’s restaurants were some of the businesses hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Carol Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA). “With indoor dining shut down, our operators had to get creative at ways to keep revenue coming in and their staff employed. Thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis’ executive order, many restaurants were saved from closing through their ability to sell alcohol with to-go orders for off-premises consumption. With the Governor now signing alcohol-to-go into law, our restaurants can continue to count on this source of revenue as they provide excellent meals and beverages for their customers.”