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'Would you like a drink with that?'

April 30, 2020

A can of beer, bottle of wine and takeout meal bag

The stay-at-home order is definitely helping Minnesotans stay safe from COVID-19. But it also comes with its own issues, such as the fact that some of us are getting tired of our own cooking, don’t have the facilities to cook, or don’t know how. That’s why it’s so nice to be able to order meals for delivery or pick them up curbside from local restaurants and bars, especially now that we know we’ll be staying home until May 18.

Until April 18, though, none of those meal orders could involve alcohol. That’s when Gov. Walz signed the Limited Off-Sale for Restaurants law. To understand how it works, you need to know the difference between an off-sale liquor license and an on-sale liquor license. On-sale liquor licenses are what bars and restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages have: You buy wine, beer or liquor, and you drink it on the premises. Off-sale licenses are what liquor stores have. You buy a closed package of liquor – a bottle of wine, say, or a six-pack of beer cans – and take them off-site to consume.

The new law extends the privilege of off-sale licenses to establishments that have only on-sale licenses. The idea is to lessen the negative impact to bars and restaurants that are closed under the governor’s executive order because of the pandemic.

Here’s how it works: You call a restaurant up (or go online) and order some food. If you want beer or wine with your food, you have to go pick it up; the law doesn’t allow alcoholic beverages to be delivered to your home. And there’s a limit to how much you can get. The most you can pick up with your food is a six-pack of beer (or cider or hard seltzer) and a 750-ml bottle of wine.

The alcoholic beverages you order have to be in their original packaging (which is why you can’t order, say, a cocktail for pickup), and the hours and days you of sale are the same as liquor stores. Anyone picking up a food order that includes alcohol has to be 21 years of age or older, and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division recommends that the bar or restaurant follows CDC guidelines for masks and gloves when checking IDs. Although you can’t just order alcohol alone, there’s no specific minimum amount of food you have to order – although the bar or restaurant may have a policy about that.

So if you’re ordering food for pickup from a Minnesota bar or restaurant, your answer to “Would you like a drink with that?” can now be “yes.” Just know there are specific guidelines that restaurants must follow before you can enjoy that beer or wine with your takeout meal at home.