With bars and nightclubs closed and the rhythms of daily life upended by the coronavirus, liquor stores have been deemed “essential” retail in the state of New York.
Starting at 8 p.m. Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sweeping ramp-up of restrictions, called the “New York State on Pause” plan, requires residents to stay at home to the maximum extent possible, banning nonessential travel and requiring all businesses to shutter if they do not fit specific criteria.
“This is the most drastic action we can take,” Cuomo said at a briefing at the state capitol. New York now has the highest number of confirmed cases in the nation.
As of Friday, New York state has more than 7,200 confirmed cases.
The state’s list of essential retail includes “grocery stores including all food and beverage stores” along with pharmacies, convenience stores, farmer’s markets, gas stations, restaurants/bars (for take-out/delivery), hardware and building material stores. Mass transit will stay operational; food delivery and takeout services will stay open.
Craft beer breweries and cideries also will remain open under the temporary rules in effect until April 15. And for the first time, you can now have beer delivered to your home in New York, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, part of the USA TODAY Network, reports.
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But while New York is keeping liquor stores open, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board closed state-owned Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware counties. The state is keeping its online store up and running, making deliveries.
In Alabama, an emergency order allows curbside sales of alcoholic beverages at licensed locations in the state.
And California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide shelter-in-place order but under a temporary measure taken by the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control restaurants can now sell “beer, wine, and pre-mixed drinks or cocktails,” for pickup or delivery. Liquor stores also are allowed to stay open.
The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America has urged governors “to keep wine and spirits retailers open as to not encourage bad actors to pop-up black market liquor operations,” the group said in a news release.
On social media, many embraced New York’s decision.
“You cannot close the schools and also close the liquor stores. Please. Please have mercy on the parents,” Twitter user @JewelStaite wrote.
Actor Jeffrey Wright tweeted “Are liquor stores ‘essential’ businesses? If they don’t invoke the 25th amendment today, I’m running outta whiskey tomorrow.”
Contributing: Joseph Spector and Jon Campbell, USA TODAY Network’s New York State Team; Will Cleveland and Ryan Miller, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko