The typical license for Florida restaurants doesn’t allow them to sell packaged alcoholic beverages to go, but Gov. Ron DeSantis provided some relief from that on Friday.
With so many restaurants struggling and trying to survive with a delivery and takeout model, DeSantis issued an order on Friday that allows restaurants previously licensed to sell drinks to diners in house to now sell sealed containers to patrons who are getting food to go or delivered. In essence, he is temporarily suspending a prohibition against restaurants conducting packaged sales.
Retail vendors that were previously licensed to sell sealed containers can continue to do so as well, DeSantis’ order on Friday said. This appears to be a move to provide consistency and clarity in regulations statewide during the outbreak, since some counties and cities have moved towards more restrictive rules. For example, rules issued in Miami-Dade County this week called for closing non-essential businesses, but the list didn’t specifically mention liquor stores as being able to stay open or not.
Here is some of the background: On Tuesday, DeSantis has issued a statewide order telling restaurants to reduce their capacity by half and stop selling alcoholic beverages. On Thursday, he issued an order for Broward and Palm Beach counties that said, “I hereby order restaurants, bars, taverns, pubs, night clubs, banquet halls, cocktail lounges, cabarets, breweries, cafeterias and any other alcohol and/or food service business establishment with seating for more than ten (10) people with in the incorporate and unincorporated areas of Broward and Palm Beach County to close on-premises service of customers.”
Those measure put a major crimp in restaurants’ business operations.
The changes on Friday are important to restaurants’ survival because alcoholic beverage sales can be a significant source of revenue and profits.
The law firm of Greenspoon Marder, which has a sizeable alcoholic beverage practice, had sent a letter to the Department Of Business & Professional Regulation, seeking relief said Louis J. Terminello, who is chairman of the firm’s Hospitality, Alcohol and Leisure Industry Group. The letter warned of the grave economic consequences faced by restaurants and asked for an executive order to provide some relief and continuity in the rules statewide.
Terminello was happy that the governor came through.