Governor Baker signs legislation extending outdoor dining and take-out cocktails through April 2023
Expanded outdoor dining and take-out cocktails are here to stay in Massachusetts for at least a year after Governor Charlie Baker signed a $1.6. billion-dollar spending bill that included extensions for pandemic-era rules.
On March 24, state senators voted to extend the policies through April 1, 2023, as part of a $1.6 billion spending bill that would also funnel hundreds of millions more into COVID-19 treatments, testing and vaccination efforts.
According to WCVBmixed drinks sold with take-out or delivery food must be in sealed containers and placed in the trunk or non-passenger parts of a vehicle.
Baker signed the legislation on Friday.
The bill will be based on about $750 million in expected federal refunds.
The bill also includes $700 million for COVID-19 response efforts, $346 million for home medical services for low-income people, and $140 million for students with special needs in the schools, as well as millions more for other social safety net programs.
The bill also expands tenant protections that require courts to grant an extension in an eviction case for nonpayment of rent where the nonpayment was due to financial hardship related to COVID-19 and the tenant has a pending application for housing assistance.
Last year, the Legislature and Baker extended until April 1 the period in which cities and towns could allow the expansion of outdoor dining in restaurants and extended the policy for restaurants to sell beer, wine and cocktails to go until May 1st.
“This is a big win for restaurants. We need to make sure we keep the only silver lining to ourselves throughout the pandemic and find a permanent solution for these popular arrangements,” Bob Luz of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association told MassLive in March.
In Boston, restaurants in the North End will have to pay a $7,500 fee to continue with the outdoor dining program. The new rule is expected to come into effect on May 1.
The program calls for restaurants’ outdoor dining spaces to have an evacuation plan and be subject to new closing times.
In Worcester, members of the Worcester License Commission have pledged not to charge restoration fees similar to the Boston program.
“Having seen this [these businesses] have been through for the past two years…they struggled, but thanks to this outdoor meal, they were able to survive,” commission chairman Walter Shea told MassLive.