NEWBURYPORT -- State Sen. Diana DiZoglio and area chambers of commerce leaders are advocating for temporary legislation that would allow restaurants to sell takeout beer, wine and liquor with food purchases during the COVID-19 emergency.
DiZoglio said on Tuesday that many restaurants have contacted her office with concerns that the loss of alcoholic beverage sales will devastate their businesses, which could force many to lay off staff or even close their doors after the emergency is over.
“These establishments are fearful that they will be unable to reopen once the ban is lifted unless further action is taken,” said DiZoglio, a Methuen Democrat, Tuesday afternoon. “One of the many concerns expressed to me by local small business owners was that beer, wine and liquor sales make up a large portion of their revenue and that losing those sales could be devastating for many local restaurants and pubs, especially those who have opened their doors within the last year.”
On Tuesday, DiZoglio signed a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker asking his administration to pass a law allowing takeout alcohol sales to alleviate the burden on restaurants and allow them to retain employees. The letter was also signed by Greater Newburyport Chamber President Frank Cousins and Vice President Mark Iannuccillo, along with leaders from the Amesbury, Salisbury, Greater Haverhill and Merrimack Valley chambers, and the North Andover Merchants Association.
Cousins also emphasized the importance of alcohol sales in keeping restaurants afloat during the emergency, saying he was glad the area’s chambers were in support of altering the state’s liquor laws as a short-term solution to support local businesses.
“All the chambers, we’re all on the same page,” said Cousins. “Restaurants have bottles of wine they can sell, and most people know what they drink when they go to different restaurants. If you’re placing an order and you want to take four Heinekens or a bottle of wine, it helps, and the reality is that it’s something we can look at.”
The letter follows a similar law that was announced by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday, allowing that state’s bars and restaurants to sell alcohol for takeout and delivery, as long as it is sold with food.
DiZoglio said she hopes her and the area chambers’ efforts will help sustain local businesses, and encouraged residents to give their support as well.
“We should be doing everything possible to assist these small businesses which are owned by and employ neighbors in our community,” she said.
DiZoglio also encouraged other members of the community to reach out to her office if they need any assistance during the COVID-19 emergency.