MA bill would extend pandemic-era policies like “to-go” cocktails
BOSTON, M.A. (WLNE) — The Massachusetts state senate is set to take up a bill that would extend an array of pandemic-era policies like take-out alcohol sales, expanded outdoor dining, mail-in voting, and remote access to public meetings, amongst others.
The policies are set to expire in August, 60 days after Governor Charlie Baker lifts the state’s emergency order on June 15.
Restaurant owners argue they’d be crushed if “to-go” cocktails and expanded outdoor dining were discontinued.
“The restaurant business notoriously operates on razor-thing margins,” said Chef Chris Coombs, the owner of multiple restaurants in the greater Boston area.
“Having a good month or good six weeks in no way, shape or form makes up for 15 months of difficulty,” Coombs said.
But many liquor store owners say take-out cocktails are hurting their business and effecting public safety, as they can easily get into the hands of minors via third-party delivery apps that are not regulated by the state.
“Deliveries being made by third party services — they don’t have a license to do this at all,” said Max Haivanis, owner of Wollaston Wine and Spirits in Quincy.
“If we’re going to change something like this on a long-term basis, there needs to be public hearings and people would need to investigate and look at the issue in its entirety,” said Haivanis.
If state lawmakers pass the bill, it would extend take-out cocktails and expanded outdoor dining until the spring of 2022.
“The package store association were one of the major beneficiaries of the pandemic,” said Coombs. “They saw their sales increase by 35% year-over-year.”
“There’s a very small fraction of their share that’s coming out of restaurants,” Coombs continued, “I think it’s between 1-2%.”
If passed, the bill would also extend remote access to public meetings until next spring and mail-in voting until December of this year.
“The meetings we’ve been having remotely have been going just fine here in Attleboro,” said mayor Paul Heroux.
Heroux says regardless of the bill, he plans to keep remote access to public meetings as an option for those who can’t make or don’t feel comfortable meeting in person.
“There’s something to be said about being in a room with somebody,” said Heroux. “But then on the other side, there is also benefit to scheduling more remote meetings because you don’t have to worry about travel time and getting around.”
The senate is expected to take up the bill in session Thursday morning.
(c) WLNE-TV // ABC 6 2021