Illinois House, Senate pass bill to allow to-go cocktails; Local law enforcement have concerns

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Thousands of Illinoisans unemployed and lawmakers are trying to create new jobs and bring in more revenue for the state.

The Illinois House and Senate recently approved a bill to allow restaurants and bars to sell cocktails to-go but not everyone is on board.

Illinois State Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield) said this proposal could help save Illinois liquor license holders and jobs.

“So this has been something that we’ve been working on for several weeks now in response to what happened to the hospitality industry in a couple of months,” Butler.

Saturday a measure allowing bars and restaurants to serve cocktails to-go passed both chambers. The bill is aimed at bringing much-needed relief to establishments impacted by the pandemic.

“It’s just another way for people to enjoy their favorite beverage but also really for the industry to find another avenue for revenue in these tough times,” he said. “The part of the discussion we had when we crafted this legislation, we wanted it to be safe and be consumed in the proper manner. Theirs no intent to allow people to consume in the street or consume in a vehicle. It’s strictly prohibited.”

Under the proposal, bars and restaurants would be allowed to sell premixed cocktails or other mixed drinks for delivery and curbside pickup. The drinks must be properly labeled, placed out of reach of the driver, and in a tamper-proof sealed container.

But local law enforcement are not sold.

“I understand what the legislation is trying to do. It’s trying to find some ways for them to have some economic success but I don’t know though if this one was thought through. I mean let’s be real is someone going to pick up a cocktail to put in their trunk to drive home or are they going to put it their drink collector next to them and have it while they are driving home,” Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell said.

But Asbell isn’t the only one with concerns. In a memo released in March, by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, they expressed why it didn’t support the idea of to-go cocktails. The memo reads they have safety and sanitary concerns.

“Well, the liquor control commission sometime can be, I think, a little conservative on their views on things. Sometimes they need to be pulled along to good ideas and I think it is a good idea. I think in the end, the ILCC won’t have any problems with the enforcement on this issue,” Butler said.

WMBD reached out to the Peoria Liquor Commission, and they said they are waiting to receive guidelines from the state. The bill also outlines third-party delivery services, like Grubhub and Uber Eats, are prohibited from delivering cocktails and mixed drinks.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker still has to sign but Butler said Pritzker is on board and will sign when it hits his desk.

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