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Florida lawmakers agree to make alcohol-to-go permanent

The widely-welcomed move was put in place when coronavirus kept people at home and restaurants relied heavily on takeout and delivery orders.
Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

TAMPA, Fla. — A program temporarily put in place by a March executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis allowing to-go and delivery orders of alcohol is here to stay.

Florida lawmakers gave final approval of the industry-backed bill (SB 148) Wednesday allowing restaurants to sell alcoholic drinks with take-home meals.

The widely-welcomed move was put in place when coronavirus kept people at home and restaurants relied heavily on takeout and delivery orders.  

SB 148, which was sponsored by Republican Senator Jennifer Bradley, authorizes "certain food service establishments to sell or deliver certain alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption under certain circumstances."

So, what are those circumstances? To qualify, the establishment must derive at least 51 percent of its revenue from the sale of food and non-alcoholic drinks. It also needs to meet certain size and service standards to be included.

Beyond that, all orders placed, including alcohol, must be accompanied by a food purchase. And all alcohol that leaves the premises in an order must be sealed, though the bill does not specify in what manner. 

The bill also looks to allow diners to take home an unsealed bottle of wine for later consumption, as long as it was purchased on-site with a meal, was already partially consumed and is resealed before taken home.

Regardless, any alcohol removed is required to be placed in a locked compartment, trunk, or out of reach in vehicles to abide by Florida law.

DeSantis previously expressed support for making alcohol-to-go measures permanent.

“I allowed them to deliver alcohol, I think that’s been pretty popular, we’re probably going to keep that going,” DeSantis said at a press conference in May. “Maybe we’ll have the legislature change the law on that.”

RELATED: Florida House passes alcohol to-go bill by 115-1 vote

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