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Open Container Laws Modified, Could Pose Challenges for Retailers

While its true common consumption areas and to-go beverages might not be entirely new concepts, remaining COVID restrictions and lingering fears have propelled the pair into the limelight. The positioning comes as major cities across the U.S. loosen open container and public drinking laws. Shifts in traditional regulation are intended to help the restaurant industry, a catalyst of economic growth and development, to drive business and avoid further declining sales.


Legalized common consumption in Colorado traces back to 2011. City council in the booming metropolis of Denver allowed the initiative to slowly take shape in late 2019, but as COVID restrictions ramped up, it took a backseat. Only recently did it gain resurgence as an evergreen effort to aid in building community within the city after a year of hard-hitting pandemic obstacles.1 In the large majority of municipalities across the U.S., carrying and drinking open alcohol – or drinks featuring it - in public are largely forbidden.


A number of sources, including and Today, report permanence of to-go cocktails now or in the near future in nearly half of the U.S., including Arkansas, California, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma and West Virginia. Texas maintains its COVID-era emergency order permitting to-go drinks thanks in part to significant backing from state government.Florida carries a similar tune as the newly minted “lifeline” is set to take shape beginning July 1.3


Among the many things pandemic perseverance continues to teach us, alcohol sales are incredibly profitable for restaurants and bars. And though it’s too early to tell how shifts in traditional regulation will affect retailers given the novelty, its likely we’ll continue to see previously unconventional solutions emerge as commonplace.


At The BARS Program, we diligently monitor trends in tobacco, vaping and alcohol regulation and consumption, as well as those crystalizing as a result of COVID-19. To begin your partnership with BARS, or to learn more about the tobacco and alcohol sales compliance training preferred by most, contact The BARS Program at or call 1-877-540-5500.


The Denver Post, 4//07/2021; Alcohol in public, sort of. Denver to allow common liquor consumption areas

The Texas Tribune, 5/12/2021; Texas law now allows alcohol to go from restaurants after Gov. Greg Abbott signs bill

3 wfsu Public Media, 5/13/2021; Florida Governor Signs 'Alcohol To Go' Bill Into Law

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