DeSantis signs bill to make alcohol-to-go permanent

Published: Updated:
Mixing up drinks at Cantina Laredo in Fort Myers. (Credit: WINK News)

Florida restaurants will be able to sell cocktails with delivery and takeout food orders even after the coronavirus pandemic ends under a bill signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday.

DeSantis lifted restrictions on alcohol-to-go early in the pandemic as a way to help restaurants when they were temporarily ordered to not seat customers. Later capacity restrictions were put in place before all restrictions were lifted.

But alcohol-to-go continues under an emergency order DeSantis signed and the idea proved popular with customers.

“It worked well, people liked it, there was a good response, so we said this should be something that we just make permanent,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis held a bill signing ceremony at an Ormond Beach restaurant. He said there were a number of examples of restaurants being able to survive the pandemic because of to-go alcohol sales.

Southwest Florida restaurants are no exception.

“It definitely helped increase the sales, especially when we were only at 25% capacity, and then to be able to carry it on when we went to 100% capacity, people still got the feeling of being at Cantina at home,” said Joy Duda, general manager of Cantina Laredo in Fort Myers.

Duda said about half of their to-go orders include alcohol.

“It’s wonderful, it’s great for the staff, it’s great for all of our guests who still don’t feel comfortable coming back in.”

Donald Jones agrees with the new law. “It’s a great idea to help the businesses. They’ve been hurting for the whole time during the pandemic and anything they can do to help is a great idea.”

But not everyone approves. Amalia Lewis said now that bars and restaurants are open at 100% capacity, she doesn’t see why to-go alcohol needs to be the new norm.

“I think for others that can’t get out or would prefer to stay home, it might work out for it. But for me, the biggest concern would be potential of an increase of drinking and driving and accidents,” she said.

In order to get alcohol with your order, you must order food as well. All alcoholic drinks must be put in sealed containers and remain closed when leaving the restaurant.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.