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Bars, restaurants in Wisconsin push to make to-go alcohol sales permanent



(MADISON, Wis.) — A new proposal could allow restaurants and bars in the Badger State to sell alcoholic beverages in to-go bottles for good.

The state assembly set to vote Wednesday on the bill with bipartisan support that would give licensed businesses the ability to sell certain cocktails, beer and wine by the glass for takeout “if the retailer seals the container of intoxicating liquor with a tamper-evident seal.”

Currently, the law states that “no person may sell alcohol beverages to a consumer unless the seller possesses a license or permit authorizing the sale.”

Cocktails for sale and off-site consumption has been a growing trend for bars and restaurants across the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic, with temporary measures that have helped businesses boost otherwise dormant alcohol sales to help the hard-hit industry make up for other financial losses during temporary closures and lower customer counts.

Last month, Kristine Hillmer, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, said in a prepared testimony for the bill that restaurants often rely on these alcohol sales to remain open. With the drastic decline in in-person dining, she explained those sales have been slashed.

“More than ever restaurants need these kinds of tools to keep their restaurants afloat and keep their team employed,” she said.

Both the Wisconsin Grocers Association and Wisconsin Public Health Association registered opposition to the bill.

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