Restaurants and bars in California can continue selling to-go booze through the end of the year, under a new extension of the governor's pandemic regulatory relief rules announced Thursday. And outdoor parklet dining is being extended as well, ahead of state laws that will solidify both.
Governor Gavin Newsom held a press event outside Tommy's Mexican Restaurant on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco today to announce the extension of the to-go cocktail rules through December 31. Also, he celebrated the California Senate's passage of Senate Bill 314 on Tuesday night, which was co-sponsored by Senator Scott Wiener, and which extends the life of outdoor parklets and shared spaces where alcohol is being served. The bill still has to pass through the Assembly and get the governor's signature, but Newsom announced today that existing rules are being extended in the meantime.
"This will both promote public health by encouraging outdoor dining and promote the economic recovery of the restaurant sectors by allowing restaurants and bars to benefit from the substantial investments that they have made in their outdoor operations," said the governor's office in a statement.
Throughout the pandemic, flexible dining rules gave customers safer & fun options to support CA’s dynamic restaurant industry.— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) June 3, 2021
Today, we’re announcing that CA will allow outdoor dining expansions and to-go cocktails to stay after we fully reopen on June 15! 🍽️🍸 pic.twitter.com/EP1JMa2GJz
NEW: The pandemic may be going away... but your to-go cocktails don’t have to!— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) June 3, 2021
CA will now allow to-go cocktails and outdoor dining expansions to stay after we fully reopen on June 15th.
Wiener tweeted on Wednesday that SB314 had passed the Senate unanimously, after it was introduced in February.
"Outdoor dining has been a lifeline for CA restaurants & bars," Wiener wrote. "And people really like it. We need to keep it going."
In addition, SB314 allows bars and restaurants to share liquor licenses with pop-ups and food trucks that operate in their spaces, and it creates a new type of liquor license for music venues.
Last night, the Senate unanimously passed our legislation to extend outdoor dining with alcohol (#SB314) for one year past the end of the COVID state of emergency.— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) June 2, 2021
Outdoor dining has been a lifeline for CA restaurants & bars. And people really like it. We need to keep it going.
"As the state turns to post-pandemic life, we’ll continue to adapt best practices that have helped businesses transform customer experience for the better," Newsom said during the Thursday event at Tommy's, per KPIX. "With new opportunities and support for businesses large and small, and the California can-do spirit that has carried us through the past year, we will come roaring back from this pandemic."
A separate bill, SB389, that would change the rules around to-go beer, wine, and cocktails in a more permanent way, was introduced a week after Wiener's bill, and it has since passed the Senate and is with the Assembly awaiting passage. That bill requires all beverages to either be in pre-packaged containers from manufacturers, or in containers with sealed lids or caps, and allows those with on-sale liquor licenses to sell booze to go under those conditions.
Newsom's announcement Thursday appears to be a stopgap ahead of more businesses reopening, and will be superseded once the new state laws pass and take effect.