Beer and wine are included as takeout options for Virginia restaurants with the proper licensing.
If you're craving a drink with your takeout dinner (and we all need a drink these days), the state of Virginia is making an exception. In an unprecedented move, Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) is allowing licensed restaurants to include beer and wine as part of their to-go dining options. Governor Ralph Northam announced this change in a press conference given on Friday as part of an update on COVID-19 cases in the state.
The typical procedure for restaurants wanting to sell alcohol to-go includes a $195 application and yearly $300 licensing fee, in addition to a 30-day waiting period. Now, along with wineries and breweries, eateries across Virginia can utilize services like Grub Hub or Uber Eats for meal and drink deliveries, without needing a special permit. In compliance with the law, beverages must be sealed.
The state declared a state of emergency on March 12 which has resulted in business closures, among them restaurants. Restaurants have shuttered their dine-in spaces, but people can still order food for delivery, curbside pick-up, and to-go. In the emergency declaration, Northam also prohibited groups of 10 or more people in public spaces in an effort to maintain social distancing measures, making service methods like takeout crucial in keeping businesses afloat.
Jack Brown's Beer & Burger Joint in Richmond, courtesy of Facebook
So far, restaurants have shown an adaption to the challenges posed by the novel Coronavirus—both Maryland and D.C. have implemented hands-off dining methods and allowed beer and wine for carryout. But when it comes to making a profit, it's all in the alcohol sales, especially liquor. Roughly 20-30 percent of a restaurant's earnings are made from alcoholic beverages, and right now cocktails are not included in ABC's lifted restrictions. Places like New York and California are allowing pre-made cocktails to be sold with food, so it's hard to say whether that's next on the menu for the DMV.
As for how long businesses will offer delivery and carryout on booze depends on the duration of Virginia's state of emergency. While it's in place, people can lean on their favorite local businesses for a cold one during this time of uncertainty. You can read Virginia ABC's full statement here.
Virginians, what do you think of this new change? Will you be ordering your favorite beverages to go? Let us know in the comment section.