Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation Wednesday allowing restaurants to sell curbside takeaway alcoholic beverages and distillers to sell liquor on their premises in Georgia.
The loosened rules on alcohol sales aim to give Georgia restaurants and alcohol vendors a boost after more than a year of weathering financial losses spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, which industry representatives estimate has wiped out roughly 20% of Georgia’s restaurants.
One measure Kemp signed Wednesday permits restaurants to sell patrons alcohol to-go in tightly sealed containers with takeout food. To-go drinks would also have to be stored in a glove box, locked trunk or behind the back seat while driving.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Matt Brass, R-Newnan, follows legislation Kemp signed last year allowing deliveries of beer, wine and liquor to homes as the pandemic prompted fewer Georgians to dine out, battering local restaurants.
Kemp also signed a bill sponsored by state Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton, allowing Georgia distilleries to sell liquor for on-site consumption on any day that the city or county in which they are located allows such sales.. Similar on-site sales rules will also apply to malt-beverage brewers under the bill.
Kemp’s signing of the alcohol-focused legislation continued a bill-signing spree this week that saw him also ink legislation allowing state employees and teachers to take up to three weeks of paid parental leave, a bill lowering the age Georgia parents can adopt children from 25 to 21, and a measure toughening penalties for drivers and promoters engaged in illegal street racing.
Kemp signed a package of education bills this week giving veterans an easier path to become teachers and allowing private groups to donate grant funds to struggling public schools. He also signed legislation providing tax breaks to key industries.
The governor is set Thursday to sign legislation permitting Georgia athletes to earn compensation for the use of their “name, image or likeness” by the public, private or technical colleges they attend, pending student athletes complete a financial-literacy workshop and keep their earnings in an escrow account for at least one year after graduating or leaving school.
Kemp is also expected next week to sign high-profile legislation overhauling Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law that was spurred by public outrage over the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery outside Brunswick last year.