Gov. Hochul pushes to make to-go drinks permanent in New York

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Gov. Kathy Hochul went to a Brooklyn wine bar Wednesday morning to push her proposal to make to-go drinks -- a pandemic favorite that received pushback from liquor stores -- permanent.

"Century-old restrictions that have no basis in reality anymore" forbid restaurants and bars from selling to-go drinks, which gained popularity during the pandemic, she said.

"We are proposing to permanently allow bars and restaurants to sell to-go drinks," Hochul said. "We saw that this is a critical revenue stream."

Hochul said she wants to add 39 workers to the State Liquor Authority dedicated solely to help process the more than 75,000 applications for liquor licenses every year.

She said the SLA will have to iron out details on regulations in legislation, which must be approved by Albany.

But the program will not be a complete pandemic throwback. Hochul does not anticipate requiring bar patrons to purchase nominal food with their drinks, forcing restaurants to add items mockingly dubbed 'Cuomo Chips' to their menus in 2020.

"I don't believe it will not be necessary to have food associated with it," she said.

To-go alcohol was first approved as a temporary measure to help restaurants and bars whose indoor service was shut down during the pandemic. But the rule, in its current form, must be extended every 30 days.

Nearly 80% of New Yorkers want to maintain the rule, according to a survey released in May by the New York State Restaurant Association, but it has received pushback from liquor stores, fearing making it permanent will cut into their bottom line.

"The one thing that went viral was to-go drinks," Hochul says of her budget plan.

"Streamlining the state liquor authority's temporary permitting process, bringing back to-go drinks, and the other relief measures outlined in the Governor's proposal are exactly the shot in the arm New York's hospitality industry needs," said State Sen. Jessica Ramos. "We can make things easier for small businesses and in turn, keep our commercial corridors vibrant. The warm weather is coming and the NYC Council is taking action to improve Open Restaurants, so I'm ready to do my part to get to-go drinks across the finish line."

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Stacy Sager reports on the much-anticipated event from Nassau County.

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