Connect with us
Stock image via Adobe.

Corona Economics

Change in rules: State regulators now say yes to cocktails to go

Restaurant managers must bar employees who went to New York — and other rules.

Yes, your to-go order from your favorite restaurant now can provide mixed drinks in sealed plastic cups to go. That also includes cans of beer or bottles of wine.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has reversed an earlier rule and now allows the sale of cocktails and other mixed drinks.

Under the coronavirus pandemic emergency, extraordinary actions have been ordered at local and statewide levels, with some rules changing on the fly.

Those include restaurant and bar provisions covered by Gov. Ron DeSantisexecutive order last week. The order closed restaurants for dining in, but then extended an authority they never had: to include alcoholic beverages in carry-out or delivery orders of food, provided the proprietor has an alcohol license.

However, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation published guidelines initially banned mixed drinks. That now is changed, according to advisories sent out to restaurants.

“After consulting with the Secretary, the Governor, and ABT Leadership, we are relaxing the “sealed alcoholic beverage requirement,” the advisory declares. “Effective immediately, licensees can sell cocktails, wine and beer in cups, jugs and other reasonable containers, as long as the alcoholic beverage is for consumption off the licensed premises. We aren’t going to tell the licensee how to seal the cup. The thought behind this is not to be an impediment to business at a time when most, if not all are suffering economically.”

It’s not the only point being clarified by the FDB&PR FAQ that might surprise some consumers. Among other advisories:

— Restaurants with alcohol licenses may send sealed alcoholic beverages out for delivery by third-party delivery services.

— Customers may enter restaurants, but they may not consume food and beverages in the restaurant, and restaurants should prevent the congregating of customers in the restaurant.

— Restaurant managers have to become health care workers: They must meet each employee outside the restaurant before each shift, then evaluate the employee for obvious signs of illness. Managers must send the employee home if symptoms such as cough, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, or signs of a respiratory infection are directly observed.

— Managers also should prohibit any employee from entering the restaurant if the employee answers “yes” to  questions about: experiencing signs or symptoms; had any close contact with any person who ahas been confirmed infected with COVID-19; has returned from international travel or a cruise within 14 days; has returned from travel to an area known for high numbers of cases, including New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, within the last 14 days.

— Airport terminals are exempted from on-site dining bans, provided the vendors adhere to “enhanced precautionary measures.”

— A restaurant that has had its alcoholic-beverages license suspended can still sell to-go food.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.