PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island's restaurant industry, with the backing of some lawmakers, wants to extend a pandemic state-of-emergency rule that allows eateries to sell alcohol along with takeout orders.
With indoor dining banned or limited for long stretches during the crisis of 2020, it was a way for restaurants make up for lost sales.
Sam Glynn, owner of Chomp Kitchen & Drinks in Providence, told The Providence Journal that when restaurants were first reopening after last spring’s lockdown, takeout drink orders made up as much as a quarter of his sales.
That has dropped to closer to about 10% as indoor dining has returned to near normal. He would like to see the rule made permanent.
“I remember when it first passed, people were concerned it would get taken advantage of, but it hasn’t been a problem and now it just allows people to have some of the experience of going out for drinks when they are home,” Glynn said.
The House passed a bill in March that would allow beer, wine and cocktails to be sold with takeout orders through the end of this year.
An initial Senate version of the legislation would have made the last call for takeout drinks the end of 2022, but that was changed to next March 2022 in a revised version that passed the Senate special legislation committee Wednesday.
“The House and Senate are still in talks, working out the final version of the bill,” House spokesperson Larry Berman wrote in an email.
Not everyone is on board the idea of takeout alcohol. Two organizations that represent liquor stores in the state oppose the Senate bill.
HEALTH DEPARTMENT DATA
The Rhode Island Department of Health on Friday reported 56 new confirmed coronavirus cases and two more virus-related deaths.
Of the new cases, 49 were confirmed Thursday and the others were added to previous days’ totals.
Rhode Island has now had nearly 152,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,717 fatalities.
The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 continues to fall and was down to 44, according to the latest data.
The department also said that more than 564,000 people in the state have been fully vaccinated.