A three-year extension of the cocktails-to-go law created to help businesses during the pandemic, along with a provision that allows bars and restaurants to give a free drink to people who’ve been vaccinated against the coronavirus, was signed into law Wednesday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
The measure, approved overwhelmingly by lawmakers over the weekend, would allow businesses to continue serving cocktails — and now single servings of wine — for takeout and delivery until Jan. 3, 2024. The existing state law was set to expire Wednesday.
“Our hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic,” said state Rep. Mike Zalewski, a Riverside Democrat, and the new law “contains a number of initiatives designed to offer much-needed help, including an extension of cocktails to-go and ‘shot and a beer’ incentives to help Illinoisans get vaccinated and then visit their favorite establishment for a drink.”
State Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, said the cocktails-to-go service was a “lifeline” to restaurants that were forced to adapt to delivery service when in-person dining restrictions were imposed due to the pandemic.
“Any tool we can provide to help keep this vibrant industry going while they are rebuilding is critical,” she said.
Last week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced an extension of the carryout cocktail service as part of a broad package of proposals aimed at helping businesses as the pandemic eases and more people are vaccinated. The city’s extension was contingent upon Pritzker signing the statewide extension of the service into law.
Under the state law, restaurants aren’t allowed to use third-party services like Grubhub or DoorDash to deliver cocktails or single-serving wine.
Under the free-drink incentive, establishments would be allowed to give one free shot, beer or glass of wine between 6 and 10 p.m. to people who show a vaccination card and identification. The promotion could only be offered from June 10 through July 10, and bars and restaurants would be allowed to give a customer a free drink only once.
“Not only will the vaccine protect you from getting sick — your free COVID-19 shot can now get you a free shot of your choosing or whatever drink suits your palate,” Pritzker said in a statement. “I’m pleased to sign this legislation into law to offer our hardest-hit businesses another lifeline as we recover from the pandemic.”
Local governments would be able to prohibit businesses from offering the drink promotion.