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Majority of New Yorkers want to-go alcohol legalized

More than three-quarters of New Yorkers surveyed said they want the ability to order alcoholic beverages when they get takeout or delivery from a restaurant.

The survey conducted for the New York State Restaurant Association questioned 700 New Yorkers earlier this month.

Overall, 78 percent want the state to legalize alcohol to-go sales. When broken down by region, the measure is even more popular in downstate regions.

In New York City, 81 percent approve, and 83 percent favor it in the city’s suburbs of Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester counties.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo allowed restaurants to offer the service once the state began reopening last year. It’s an order that’s been extended, but its status is uncertain as the latest extension expires on June 5.

In a statement, Melissa Fleischut, the association’s president and CEO, said restaurants still need it as the restrictions begin to end.

“The restaurant industry needs stability now more than ever, and by making ‘alcohol-to-go’ permanent we can encourage a strong recovery,” she said. “It’s popular with operators and customers alike.”

Not surprisingly, 96 percent of people who have ordered a drink for takeout or delivery want to see it become permanent. The NYSRA survey said of the respondents who have ordered a drink, the average customer has done it 13 times.

Fleischut added that making the regulation permanent would help businesses stave off additional layoffs.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters that it’s something the state will need to address, but he acknowledged that it was a valuable tool for restaurants dealing with capacity and hours restrictions during the pandemic.

“I think we should keep it up for the foreseeable future,” the mayor said. “It was something that was important to people, important to keeping those jobs, important to keeping those businesses going. We are not out of this yet in terms of full economic recovery.”

Scott Wexler, executive director of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association agreed.

He added that making it permanent would be one way to thank restaurants that continued to serve their communities during the pandemic.

“Now, as we work to bring back the business we lost, keeping alcohol-to-go makes sense,” he said in a statement. “It allows our customers to enjoy the restaurant experience at home until they’re comfortable dining in, our workers benefit from the extra tip income, and restaurant owners need every available revenue source as they struggle to recover,”

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