Massachusetts May Soon End Outdoor Alcohol Exemption
One of the few silver linings from the pandemic was the discovery of how festive and fun outdoor dining can be, particularly in a place as picturesque as the SouthCoast.
We saw places like the End Zone, Top Shelf Bar and Grill and Turk's Seafood dump big dollars into not only making their outdoor dining tents functional, but a beautiful addition to their existing restaurants.
Sitting and enjoying a frozen drink under a restaurant's tent on a hot summer day, sipping wine paired with just the right meal, all while enjoying the summer breeze outdoors – it may be coming to an end for many Massachusetts restaurants.
According to the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission Advisory, many of these restaurants may be forced to stop serving alcohol to customers that are dining outside.
In a memo dated last Thursday, the commission warned about a looming deadline that is coming now that the Commonwealth's State of Emergency will be drawing to a close. This Saturday, May 29, marks the end of all COVID-related restrictions. With that, COVID restrictions for all liquor licenses will be lifted and all licenses will resume normal operations.
The Governor's State of Emergency will end on June 15, 2021. The commission stresses two important changes that will come with the end of the state of emergency.
1. Restaurants with liquor licenses that were temporarily expanded to the outdoors will have 60 days to stop serving outdoors. While the governor is working to extend that deadline, this currently gives restaurants until August 15 to stop serving outdoors or apply for a license that allows them to continue to serve outside.
2. Takeout and delivery sales of alcohol will be ending on June 15.
Hopefully two things will happen in the very near future. Getting liquor licenses permanently expanded to the outdoors will not be a huge hassle for the restaurant operators, and/or the state legislature can get their act together and allow the outdoor serving to continue at least through the end of this summer.