Miscellaneous - Celebration Alcohol Beer Glass People Pub Bar - iStock - ViewApart

To-go alcoholic beverage sales become permanent Colorado law

© iStock - ViewApart
Joe Mueller

(The Center Square) – An expiring Colorado law allowing to-go alcoholic beverage sales, originating from a COVID-era executive order, is now a permanent statute.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 24-020 into law after it passed 60-3 in the House and 29-2 in the Senate. It takes effect August 6.

Colorado becomes the 28th state to permanently legalize to-go alcoholic beverage sales. California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Vermont have temporary laws allowing the sales.

PROMO Politician - Colorado Governor Jared Polis

Colorado Governor Jared Polis

Current Colorado law allows certain establishments with liquor licenses to sell limited amounts of alcoholic beverages for takeout or delivery orders, but it was scheduled to expire  July 1, 2025. The new law removes the expiration date and allows the practice to continue indefinitely.

Organizations representing restaurants and the hospitality industry praised the legislation and believe the added revenue opportunity will help relieve other financial pressures.

“Restaurants lost more than $3 billion in revenue during 2020 alone and have struggled with inflationary pressures, labor shortages, and operational uncertainty ever since,” Sonia Riggs, president and chief executive of the Colorado Restaurant Association, said in a statement. “Alcohol to go from restaurants is a win-win; it’s extremely popular with the public and provides restaurants with a measure of confidence, knowing they can factor in this additional revenue stream as they make plans for the future.”

The alcoholic beverage industry also saw the legislation as meeting consumer demand.

“Cocktails to-go are here to stay in Colorado,” Ainsley Giglierano, vice president of public affairs and state policy at the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., said in a statement. “Cocktails to-go have not only been a great additional source of revenue for local bars and restaurants, but adult consumers have come to expect the added convenience they offer. Making this measure permanent provides much-needed long-term stability.”

In 2020, Senate Bill 20-213 codified Polis’ executive order allowing for takeout and delivery of alcoholic beverages. It also mandated licensees to have a permit issued by the department of revenue after the pandemic emergency order ended. In 2021, the legislature passed and Polis signed a bill to extend the allowance for takeout or delivery from 7 a.m. to midnight.

During fiscal year 2022-2023, 1,532 applications were filed for the permits and 848 submitted renewals of permits, according to the bill’s fiscal note.