Cities may opt out of this law and prohibit the off-sale of liquor by restaurants without an off-sale license.
While bars and restaurants remain closed to in-person dining in order to contain the community spread of COVID-19, a new law seeks to help restaurants that provide takeout food orders by allowing them to include alcohol with those orders.
The new law, Chapter 75, was signed by Gov. Tim Walz on April 17 after the legislation was fast-tracked by the Legislature. The Senate bill, SF 4489 (Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Mary’s Point), was passed 65-2 by the full Senate on April 16. The House suspended the rules to give the Senate bill immediate consideration during the April 17 floor session and passed it 129-1.
The law took effect on April 18 and will expire when Gov. Tim Walz lifts the executive orders requiring the closure of bars and restaurants.
Specifics of the law
The law allows restaurants that currently hold certain liquor licenses to sell alcohol with takeout meals. Alcoholic beverages must be sold in the original, unopened packing and the restaurant must confirm that the person picking up the takeout order is at least 21 years of age.
The law limits the amount of alcohol that may be sold with any single order to 72 ounces (total) of malt liquor, hard seltzer, or cider, and 750 milliliters (ml) of wine. For reference, a traditional can size is 12 ounces, and a bottle of wine is often 750 ml, so this is likely a six-pack and a bottle of wine.
All other provisions of Minnesota liquor laws still apply. The law does not allow for restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages, but only to sell beverages with a takeout order that includes prepared food. It also does not change any existing law that applies to licensed brewers.
Cities may opt out
The law provides that cities may opt out of this measure and prohibit the off-sale of liquor by restaurants without an off-sale license. While the law does not explicitly state whether a resolution or ordinance is required to opt out, the bill’s author, Sen. Housley, stated on the Senate floor that the intent was that cities could override this authority by resolution. Rep. Halverson echoed this during the House committee discussion of the legislation.
For cities that wish to opt out of this new, temporary off-sale authority for restaurants providing takeout, the League has provided a model resolution.