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Illinois lawmakers approve cocktails-to-go bill to help struggling bars, restaurants

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Springfield, IL - The Illinois House and Senate have approved a bill to allow bars and restaurants to sell cocktails-to-go. House Bill 2682 is heading to Gov. JB Pritzker's desk for his signature of approval. Lawmakers created the plan to help bars and restaurants struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With Pritzker's approval, Illinois will legalize delivery and curbside pickup of pre-mixed drinks.

According to the bill, products must be in tamper-proof, sealed packages. The drinks must also be stored in the trunk or other inaccessible areas of cars. Many in the hospitality industry have been calling for lawmakers to allow them to start the cocktail sales during the pandemic.

"The closure of these businesses during the pandemic has been devastating," stated Sen. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago). "We are working daily to provide them with relief and develop innovative ways to survive the pandemic."

Sponsors say the proposal also includes provisions to help ease regulations and fees for liquor license holders who closed their businesses due to the pandemic. If signed by Pritzker, the state will waive late filing fees, relax liquor license fees and automatically renew and extend liquor licenses.

The legislation will be in effect for a year once signed into law. Although, some lawmakers hope the plan can be permanent in the land of Lincoln. Illinois would be the 35th state to allow cocktails and mixed drinks to be sold to-go.

House Sponsor Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) says he can't wait to get his first cocktail to go. He'll choose a Dark and Stormy.

Mike Miletich

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