AUSTIN, Texas - You can now get alcohol to-go permanently in Texas.
The governor waived regulations in March 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to allow restaurants to deliver alcohol to customers in an effort to support the hospitality industry in Texas. The waiver allowed restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine, and mixed drinks, with food purchases to customers.
HB 1024, which was introduced by state Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) and co-authored by Democrats, essentially extends the current law, which was technically an executive order put in place during the pandemic to help restaurants keep their doors open.
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States says Texas is now the 10th state to make COVID-era alcohol to-go measures permanent. Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Montana, Arkansas, West Virginia, Georgia, Oklahoma, and the District of Columbia have also all made COVID-era cocktails to-go measures permanent.
"Governor Abbott acted quickly to support Texas restaurants and bars by allowing cocktails to-go via executive order during the pandemic," said Kristi Brown, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States Senior Director of State Government Relations, in a news release. "Cocktails to-go provided a much-needed lifeline for struggling hospitality businesses and prevented the permanent closure of many. Now that this measure is permanent, hospitality businesses will have increased stability as they begin the long path to recovery."
Austin-area businesses are also celebrating the passage, including El Arroyo.
"That was a game-changer, we went from thinking that we were going to have to shut down our business to being able to employ and retain everybody through it," said Ellis Winstanly with El Arroyo. "We think it’s fantastic it’s such an obvious thing for the community. Alcohol sales are normally between 20% and 50% of sales, obviously people want to buy alcohol with food."
When it comes to alcohol to go, the alcohol must be in a sealed container and have a sticker stating it is alcohol as well as what restaurant it came from. Customers also still need to be 21 and older to order alcohol to go and it must be part of a food order from the restaurant.
With how helpful Abbott's executive order was for El Arroyo, they pushed hard for it to be more permanent. "El Arroyo has a big voice, we’ve got the sign, we have social. We took the opportunity to share messaging and let people understand it was an opportunity," said Winstanly.