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A Bear Dive signature cocktail, a Moscow mule, is photographed Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Mansion Flats near downtown Sacramento.

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California restaurants would be allowed to continue serving cocktails to go after the pandemic ends under a proposed law introduced Thursday.

Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, called the legislation “a lifeline to California restaurants struggling to survive the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic” in a statement announcing the bill.

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control currently allows restaurants to sell cocktails as part of their takeout or delivery food orders. Dodd’s bill would make that exception permanent. The bill would require that an alcohol order must be accompanied by food.

“Keeping small businesses alive while they do their part to observe COVID-19 restrictions is of paramount importance,” Dodd said in a statement. “If allowing restaurants to sell carry out cocktails alongside a meal helps keep their doors open, we must do it. Ultimately, it’s about preserving jobs and getting our economy back on track.”

Dodd’s office said that restaurants nationwide have experienced an estimated $165 billion in losses since March of 2020 because of lockdowns and social distancing requirements.

The National Restaurant Association found that 78% of restaurant owners who began selling takeout alcohol rehired laid-off employees compared to 62% overall.

Dodd’s bill has the support of the California Restaurant Association, whose president and CEO, Jot Condie, said in a statement that “the ability to include cocktails with to-go meals has been helpful for many restaurant owners who are barely hanging on.”

Dodd chairs the Senate Governmental Organization Committee, which oversees such areas as alcohol regulation.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for the Sacramento Bee. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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