New COVID-19 rules include approval by state officials of cocktails-to-go, like Harry's Plaza Cafe Best-Of-winning martini. | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

To-go cocktails are now legal in California, at least temporarily. So decreed the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, or ABC, on Friday, just one of many rules being relaxed to enable the restaurant and alcohol industries to better weather the COVID-19 storm.

“This regulatory relief is designed to support the alcoholic beverage industry in its efforts to assist California in slowing the spread of the virus while assisting the industry in dealing with the economic challenges it is facing as a result,” explained the ABC in its notice. “The Department has carefully considered the public’s health, safety, and welfare in providing this relief, and the Department has concluded that none of these measures, exercised on a temporary basis, will jeopardize the public’s health, safety, or welfare.”

To-go cocktails can only be sold by “bona fide eating places” when in conjunction with pickup or delivery meals. The temporary rules also apply to beer and wine, whether pre-packaged or by the glass. Drinks can now be sold in this manner via a drive-through window as well.

Additionally, craft distillers are now allowed to sell direct to consumers via delivery, and all alcohol producers can now accept cash at the time of delivery, which had been prohibited. (Delivered alcohol had to be paid for in advance before.)

The other relaxed rules focus a number of business-to-business transactions, enabling goods to flow more freely across the usually very regulated producer-wholesaler-retailer network.

Read the entire order here.


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