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What the Latest Coronavirus-Related Regulations Mean for Oregon’s Bars and Restaurants [Updated]

Beer and wine can flow to-go, while the state-wide stay-at-home directive just means more of the same for Portland

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Canned spritzers and bottled cocktails at Straightaway are some of the few to-go drinks in Oregon
Straightaway Cocktails/Official

Monday, March 23rd saw Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order to stay at home. The same day, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) eased regulations on how businesses can serve alcohol. There’s been some confusion as to what these directives mean for the restaurant industry in Oregon, but the two primary takeaways are that shelter at home doesn’t change much at all for things like takeout or delivery after Gov. Brown’s order on March 17 to close dining rooms, and sadly, there are no takeout cocktails, at least not yet.

Curbside Delivery for Alcohol

Those hoping for cocktails to-go, as in California and New York City, are out of luck. While the OLCC issued a ruling earlier this week that eased regulations on restaurants, bars, and pubs serving beer, wine, and malt beverages to go and for delivery, it doesn’t apply to mixed drinks or liquor. Anyone wanting a ready-made cocktail will have to visit a liquor store or local distillery like Straightaway Cocktails, which makes bottled cocktails.

What the ruling does allow is for restaurants that sell beer and wine to-go to deliver it to the curbside, as long as its within 100 feet of the establishment; previously, customers needed to go into the shop to purchase it. It also extended the curfew for home deliveries — originally the law prohibited delivery of wine and beer after 9 p.m., but that time is now extended to 2:30 a.m., reflecting the time that alcohol sales are normally cut off in the state of Oregon.

Many wineries, wine stores, and breweries have distribution programs to deliver to homes. Most restaurants do not, and rely on delivery systems like like Caviar or GrubHub. Luckily, some these delivery systems, including Caviar, are now licensed to carry wine and beer, so adults ordering from places like French bistro St. Jack can get a bottle of wine delivered with their food. Also, restaurants who don’t currently have a license for beer and wine takeout can more easily apply for a temporary, 90-day license to do so.

Matthew Van Sickle, media relations for the OLCC, says that the department is discussing ways to support the industry, including allowing for takeout cocktails and spirits, though that’s probably still a ways off.

Stay at Home Directive

Despite hesitating to issue the order to stay at home last Friday, Gov. Kate Brown issued the executive order Monday morning, ordering Oregonians to stay home whenever possible — It includes prohibitions on gatherings, traveling, outdoor activities, and, importantly, the closures of many businesses. However, the new rules won’t change much for Portland diners — they can still choose to order in or pick up takeout, as venues that supply food and drink are exempt from the many “nonessential” businesses that were closed. Dining rooms remain closed, and even coffee drinks or a snack have to be consumed off-premise.

This article was updated on March 24, 5:50 p.m. with additional details about delivery services supplying wine and beer.