The ability to get cocktails and other boozy beverages to-go from Ohio bars and restaurants is now permanent thanks to Ohio House Bill 669. Named the Businesses Expansion and Safety Act, the bill has been signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine.
Introduced toward the end of May by Republican State Reps. D.J. Swearingen and Jeff LaRe to help businesses suffering due to COVID shutdowns, the bill allows restaurant and bar owners "an opportunity to operate safely while also hopefully increasing sales of customers, helping out their workers, bartenders and keeping their customers and workers safe by utilizing outdoor space for sales and also expanding their delivery capabilities when it comes to meals and alcoholic beverages," said Swearingen in a Facebook video introducing the concept.
The new law makes permanent the emergency rule passed in April by the Ohio Liquor Control Commission, which allows businesses with on-premise liquor permits to deliver and sell alcoholic beverages to be consumed at home.
“I am grateful to the governor for signing this critical legislation into law,” said Swearingen of the signing. “This bill is going to help our main street businesses, restaurant industry, and all of the waiters, waitresses, bartenders and Ohioans that rely on that industry to pay their bills."
LaRe said in his own statement, “This is truly pro-business legislation that benefits both the sellers and consumers.”
The Businesses Expansion and Safety Act continues to allow bars, restaurants, breweries and wineries (and distilleries that makes less than 100,000 galloons of spiritous liquor per year) to sell to-go drinks in some kind of sealed cup or container for consumption off-premises.
It also allows those establishments to sell alcoholic beverages in their parking lots or adjacent outdoor areas as long as they get permission to do so from some kind of legislative authority.
And it permits third-party delivery platforms like Uber Eats, Grubhub, etc. to bring carry-out drinks to humans' homes as long as a "bona fide" effort has been made to ensure the end consumer is at least 21 years old and the platform has registered with state liquor authorities.
Many, including the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association, the Greater Ohio Policy Center, the Buckeye Institution and the Ohio Restaurant Association supported the bill.
Ohio Restaurant Association CEO John Barker said, "Even as restaurants being to reopen, the guidelines they will be operating under and a dining public that in many instances remains nervous, will lead to a slow recovery. This legislation recognizes these important facts and will give restaurants a better chance to make it through this crisis, emerge strong on the other side, and come back vigorously to help revive Ohio's economic engine and strengthen our communities."
And emergency clause in the bill makes the changes effective immediately, so hooray to carry-out cocktails forever.