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To-go alcoholic beverages gain attraction during pandemic

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KWWL) - Governor Reynolds recently passed a bill that would allow restaurants and bars to continue to serve alcoholic drinks to-go.

The bill was originally implemented in March to help struggling restaurants and bar owners during the pandemic. While it was supposed to expire on June 27th, Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law.

According to the new legislation, alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine and mixed liquor drinks, can be ordered for take-out. Jamie Becker, co-owner of the Yardarm Riverfront Grill & Bar, said she saw a spike in drink sales because of to-go ordering.

"It's a huge thing for us by the marina because any of our boaters, whether transient or slip holder, would say, 'Good morning! I'd love to have a Bloody Mary,' and try to take it to their boat," said Becker. "And we would never be able to do that until now."

However, Lt. Ted McClimon, spokesman for the Dubuque Police Department, said open container laws still apply regardless of the new legislation.

"Bars and restaurants can sell a to-go drink but it has to be sealed," said McClimon. "When you're transporting it in your trunk, preferably if you put it in your trunk or behind your rear seat where it can be reached, that makes it easier for law enforcement to verify that it's not an open container."

McClimon warns the punishments for drunk driving can include losing your license, a minimum of 48 hours in jail and hundreds of dollars of fines.

Becker said she hopes to see to-go drinks continue to remain popular during the holiday weekend and for the rest of the summer.

"They're still trying to enjoy that dining experience without having to make their own food and drinks," said Becker. "So it's been a good partnership with the community."

More than 30 states have allowed the sales of alcoholic beverages to-go because of the pandemic. Only four states are looking to continue sales permanently.

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Ashley Scott

Reporter, Dubuque

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