San Francisco, CA

To-go cocktails extended to the end of the year, Newsom says

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(SAN FRANCISCO) Restaurants and bars can continue selling alcohol to-go, as well as selling alcohol in parklets, according to an announcement from Gov. Gavin Newsom Thursday during a press conference with Mayor London Breed.

Breed and Newsom held a press conference addressing the issue out front of the Richmond District's famed Tommy's Mexican Restaurant. Similarly, Newsom announced that the Golden State would keep expanded outdoor dining long past the stated June 15 reopening, through the end of the year.

“We don’t want to go back to normal. Normal was never good enough,” Newsom said, per Eater. “ … parklets [and to-go cocktails] have saved bars and restaurants through the pandemic, and they have revitalized neighborhoods, and we want to keep that going for years and years.”

Notably, Newsom owns the Plumpjack Winery Group, which by extension makes him the owner of a number of bars in San Francisco including Balboa Cafe, White Rabbit and Wildhawk.

In May 2020, the California Department of Alcohol announced that bars, wineries, distilleries and breweries that do not have their own kitchen but partner will meal providers can serve alcohol to-go. Throughout the repeated shutdown orders, to-go alcohol has reportedly kept a number of restaurants solvent.

In February 2021, Senator Bill Dodd introduced State Bill 389, aimed at making to-go cocktails a permanent fixture in California. That bill has passed the State Senate and now needs to clear the State Assembly before going to Newsom's desk for final approval. Newsom described the measure as a "stop-gap solution" both to give the bill additional time and to help remedy the continued economic stress of the pandemic for local restaurants and bars.

“We’re extending out of concern of a gap,” Newsom told Eater SF. “Bottom line, we just want to give the legislature time to get it right.”

In an interview with Eater, the governor elaborated on the nature of the extension, saying that restaurant and bar owners would not have to get a new permit but rather their existing permit. To-go alcohol and selling alcohol at parklets would be extended through December 31, 2021.

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