RICHMOND — Governor Ralph Northam said Wednesday he had directed Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority to allow businesses with mixed-beverage licenses, such as restaurants and distilleries, to sell mixed drinks on a take out and delivery basis. The directive goes into effect Friday, April 10.
“All Virginia restaurants that remain open are now take out or delivery only,” Northam said. “Allowing them to sell mixed beverages with take out or delivery orders will help them augment their revenue streams so they can continue to operate and employ Virginians.”
Virginia loosened its restrictions in March to allow restaurants to sell wine and beer for carryout and delivery. But the state-owned liquor monopoly had not previously permitted restaurants to sell liquor or cocktails to-go, something other states — including Texas, California, Maryland and New York — have done amid social distancing recommendations.
The mayors of Richmond and Alexandria, as well as several state legislators, wrote letters or reached out to the governor to express their support for mixed beverages to go approval, according to Thomas A. Lisk, a lobbyist for the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association. Lisk has been pushing for the policy change on behalf of the restaurant industry for weeks.
"The Virginia restaurant community greatly appreciates the Governor’s assistance in allowing restaurants to be able to sell mixed beverages for take/out and delivery," Lisk said. "This additional flexibility will allow more restaurants to stay open, and more people to remain employed, during this challenging time, while also benefiting Virginia consumers who may prefer spirits over other beverages."
ABC officials said in a tweet that Northam’s directive also allows the agency to defer license renewal fees for 90 days from their original expiration dates for licenses expiring in March, April, May and June.
“If we didn’t do this, some businesses that are closed, would be in the position of paying a fee for a license that they can’t use or losing their license,” the governor said at his Wednesday news briefing.
The Virginia Department of Health reported Wednesday that 3,645 people in Virginia have tested positive for COVID-19.
That’s an increase of 312 cases from the 3,333 reported Tuesday.
The VDH also said that 30,645 have been tested for the virus in Virginia, and 615 people have been hospitalized.
There have been 75 deaths – an increase of 12 since yesterday.
Because of a lack of widespread testing, long wait times for results and lags in reporting, Virginia is likely to have significantly more COVID-19 infections than the confirmed cases that the Virginia Department of Health reports each day.
The state updates information based on counts submitted the previous day; numbers reported on the VDH website at 9 a.m. were current as of 5 p.m. Tuesday. On Tuesday, VHD noted on its site that its counts are "updated daily before 10 a.m. Numbers are preliminary and close out at 5 p.m. the day before posting. Case counts reflect what has been reported to VDH by healthcare providers and laboratories."