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Lift ABC rules against to-go cups to help restaurants and bars hurt by Cooper’s edict

I filed my research brief on red tape hindering North Carolinians during and after the effort against this Chinese coronavirus before Gov. Roy Cooper’s St. Patrick’s Day Executive Order was announced (which, for what it’s worth, had strangely not even been posted before it supposedly had taken effect at 5 p.m. that day).

That order limited the sale of food and beverages throughout the state to “carry-out, drive-through, and delivery only.” It closed down all bars and sit-down restaurants, except for those gamely trying to make a go of it with carry-out and delivery.

Community members who understand just how devastating this is to a very large industry in the state are trying to help keep these businesses open and their staff cared for. The margins on restaurants and bars are extremely tight. It’s an unforgiving business even as so many establishments are valued places of community.

What the post-COVID scene will look like here, no one knows, but I hope it won’t be a land of fast-food drive-thrus and take-out chains.

So any way to add value to carry-out and delivery purchases can only help. With that in mind, I propose:

Waive ABC prohibition against to-go cups with mixed drinks, beer, or wine

Why: To provide additional sales revenue to embattled restaurants and bars under a carry-out/drive-through/delivery order

Right now, under North Carolina’s Alcoholic Beverage Control rules,

  • “If you hold an on-premise beer or wine permit(s), you can also sell beer or wine to be taken off the licensed premises if it’s in the manufacturer’s original container”
  • “All mixed beverages must be consumed on the permitted premises; ‘to-go’ cups or sales are not allowed “

People are going to miss a good mixed drink, and some establishments have their own signature drinks. Others may serve local beers on tap that aren’t available in manufacturers’ take-home containers. Plus, if you’d care to support your favorite local establishment right now, getting a drink with your meal can’t hurt. (Get some dessert, too!)

Point is, in such extraordinary times, these are prohibitions that don’t make sense, whereas lifting them could make marginal changes for the good.

This waiver would also apply to brewery, winery, and distillery taprooms.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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