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Virginia restaurants now selling mixed drinks, cocktails to-go

Posted at 6:35 PM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-10 18:54:12-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia restaurants are allowed to sell mixed drinks and cocktails to-go as of Friday.

The new law applies to bars and restaurants that already have a mixed-drink license with Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) in an effort to help boost sales during this difficult economic time.

"All Virginia restaurants that remain open are now take out or delivery only. Allowing them to sell mixed beverages with takeout or delivery orders, will help them augment the revenue streams so they can continue to operate and employ Virginians," Gov, Ralph Northam said during a news briefing Wednesday.

Chris Danahy, the owner of the Tavern on Patterson Avenue, said he is serving cocktails in a mason jar that are the equivalent to four margaritas.

"Our hope is that this will be an added, sort of an extra special occasion thing, that people will take advantage of. And give us a little more revenue coming in," Danahy said.

Danahy said the drinks will not have ice in them, so they are not watered down by the time folks get them home.

Northam also said the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) will defer annual fees for licenses and permits up for renewal renewal through June.

"We also continue to work on ways to ease pressures on businesses such as our restaurants," Northam said.

Northam said the move aims to help abut 6,000 establishments with ABC licenses.

"If we didn't do this, some businesses that are closed would be in the position of paying a fee for a license that they can't use or losing their license," Northam said.

Last month, the Virginia ABC has changed its rules to let restaurants deliver alcohol or sell it curbside without having a special permit to do so in response to restaurants closing their dining rooms in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Read more about the rule changes with the way alcohol can be served in Virginia here.

Why Virginia ABC stores are considered essential

Virginia officials explained why the state's ABC stores are classified as an essential business during the COVID-19 crisis .during a news briefing on the coronavirus pandemic last month.

"They are essential under the existing Emergency Operations Plan," Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran said.

Additionally, Moran said that social distancing is being practiced in the stores since no more than 10 customers are permitted in a location at one time.

"Really, we're able to achieve social distancing in the ABC store environment," Moran said.

Virginia ABC stores changed their hours last month to be nbe open from noon to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

“Given the expanding nature of the coronavirus to other areas of the commonwealth, after consulting with the Virginia Department of Health, we believe these adjustments to our business practices will reinforce measures already in place to keep everyone safe and mitigate the impact of this virus on our employees and customers,” Virginia ABC Chief Executive Officer Travis Hill said last month.

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