(The Center Square) – A pandemic-era law to allow Illinois bars and restaurants to sell cocktails to-go may be extended.
When Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered all bars and restaurants closed after the pandemic began, owners said they needed a way to survive, and selling and delivering cocktails was one way to do so.
Andy Deloney, senior vice president and head of state public policy with the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, said the cocktails to-go movement was a savior for some bars and restaurants during tough times.
“When the pandemic began, many states including Illinois, jumped into action to help provide some relief to local restaurants and taverns who essentially for the most part across the country had been shut down to provide them a lifeline to continue operating,” Deloney told The Center Square.
If signed by the governor, Senate Bill 89 would extend the cocktails to-go and delivery until Aug. 1, 2028. Illinois’ current law expires June 1, 2024.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 20 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to permanently allow cocktails to-go, and 14 others, including Illinois, have enacted laws that allow cocktails to-go on a temporary basis. Numerous states are still considering cocktails to-go legislation.
Before the pandemic, there were over 25,000 eating and drinking establishments in Illinois in 2018, with an estimated $30 billion in sales. Those numbers decreased significantly during the pandemic as many didn’t survive state-ordered shutdowns in 2020.
“We urge Governor Pritzker to sign this bill and continue cocktails to-go in support of Illinois businesses and consumers,” Deloney said.