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Iowa's governor signs law to make cocktails to go permanent, and Michigan extends measure through 2025.

States begin to make cocktails-to-go laws permanent

Iowa enacts change, and Michigan extends measure to 2025 in wake of coronavirus

States have begun the slow march to turning temporary sales of cocktails to go into more permanent options with Iowa and Michigan this week expanding measures instituted in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday signed a bill that permanently allows cocktails to go, first instituted March 19 as a temporary measure to help restaurants and bars in the wake of coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

And Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday signed legislation extending restaurant and bar sales of cocktails to go through Dec. 31, 2025. Whitmer on Wednesday also closed indoor seating in bars in parts of the state.

Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, praised enactment of the to-go legislation.

"The passage of HB 5811 is a recognition by Michigan's elected leadership that restaurants and bars need help immediately to endure during uncertain times,” Winslow said in an emailed statement. “The expansive five-year sunset is their recognition of the changing environment in which restaurants operate and a commitment to help the industry meet demand where it is increasing — at home."

More than 30 states and the District of Columbia are allowing restaurants and/or bars to sell cocktails to go, bottled spirits to-go or both, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Distilled Spirits Council of the United States trade group.

Other states, including Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and the District of Columbia, are considering making their temporary policies permanent.

“Making cocktails to-go permanent provides a much-needed source of stability and revenue for local bars, restaurants and distilleries as they begin to recover,” said Dale Szyndrowski, DISCUS vice president of state government relations, in a statement.

Sam Awdish, president of the Michigan Spirits Association, said, “These new laws not only provide needed relief and new revenue sources to the hospitality industry, but they offer fun and safe alternatives for their guests to enjoy hand-crafted cocktails in a comfortable setting of their choice – once again putting Michigan in a position to be a leader in the Midwest’s cocktail scene.”

In the first month of the pandemic, Michigan closed dine-in services at its restaurants and bars before St. Patrick’s Day in efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Those rules originally were eased May 22 for northern Michigan and the remainder of the state is to allow indoor service starting June 8.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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