State

Cocktails-to-go? Illinois General Assembly approves

Senators and staff maintain social distancing on the floor of the Illinois Senate during session Thursday at the Capitol in Springfield. (Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]
Senators and staff maintain social distancing on the floor of the Illinois Senate during session Thursday at the Capitol in Springfield. (Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

SPRINGFIELD — A measure allowing bars and restaurants to serve cocktails to go passed both chambers of the General Assembly Saturday, meaning it needs only a signature from Gov. JB Pritzker to become law.

State Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, said in a news release the bill is aimed at bringing “much needed” relief to bars and restaurants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a floor debate, she added that 300,000 of the 580,000 people employed in the hospitality industry in Illinois are currently jobless as indoor dining is still not allowed under the state’s stay-at-home order.

Per the bill, bars and restaurants would be allowed to sell pre-mixed cocktails or other mixed drinks for delivery and curbside pickup, provided they are in tamper-proof sealed containers. Drivers would be required to store mixed drinks in a trunk or other inaccessible compartment.

The cocktails-to-go measure would be repealed one year after the effective date of the bill, which would be whenever the governor signs it.

The measure, House Bill 2682, included other provisions aimed at assisting businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as well. Those include automatically renewing and extending liquor licenses and waiving late filing fees for a license holder that has had business suspended in any capacity due to the pandemic. 

Lawmakers were scheduled to work well into the night Saturday and possibly into Sunday, making passage of the bill still a possibility this weekend.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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