How COVID-19 Changed Alcohol Forever
Since March 2020, Americans have had to embrace a seemingly endless number of unexpected changes to everyday life thanks to the pandemic. While in-person concerts and sporting events are back for the most part, more Zoom meetings and telehealth appointments seem like sure bets to stick around. Other surprising pandemic trends are also proving durable—namely, to-go and delivery alcohol went from a legal sideshow to one of the largest policy tidal waves in modern times.
New research demonstrates just how many states implemented delivery and to-go alcohol changes during COVID-19. All told, 32 out of 50 states (nearly 65 percent) have applied one or more changes to their to-go and delivery alcohol rules since the pandemic started.
To break it down further, 29 out of 50 states have extended or made permanent the ability of restaurants and bars to either sell to-go cocktails or to deliver those cocktails. Twenty of these states permanently enshrined to-go cocktails, while the rest extended to-go drinks at least through 2023. (This research did not count temporary emergency orders that will expire once the pandemic subsides.)
The COVID-19 alcohol reform wave is not just limited to to-go margaritas, either. During the pandemic, 10 states greenlighted the ability of groceries or liquor stores to deliver alcohol to our doors. That brings the total number of states allowing some form of store-to-consumer alcohol delivery to over 40.
Alcohol producers were also not left out of the reform party. While most states allowed wine to be shipped to consumers even before the pandemic, only a small handful of states permitted beer and distilled spirits to be locally delivered or shipped long distance. But during COVID-19, 13 states expanded the ability of breweries and distilleries to deliver everything from growlers to fifths of bourbon right to our doorsteps.
In an age when pretty much every single consumer produc
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