Temporary to-go beer and wine sales in Minnesota will become reality Saturday after the Minnesota Legislature approved a measure to let restaurants sell some liquor alongside food while they remain closed to on-site diners during the state’s coronavirus emergency.
The Senate passed the measure Thursday and Gov. Tim Walz signed it after the House approved it Friday. The new off-sale rule will take effect Saturday. Restaurants and bars that serve food will be able to sell up to one bottle of wine or the equivalent of a six-pack of beer, cider or hard seltzer with food orders.
The temporary change comes after lobbying from restaurant owners during the state-ordered closures, arguing that beer and liquor sales represent nearly half their revenue under normal circumstances.
Cocktails and spirits are not included in the new rule. Rep. Jon Koznick, R-Lakeville, one of the sponsors of the original legislation, said this week that industry groups had expressed concerns about the safety and liability of selling open containers.
The bill netted broad bipartisan support. The measure passed 65-2 in the Senate and 129-1 in the House, where the sole dissenting vote was cast by state Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul.
“Jobs, jobs and jobs,” Koznick said on the House floor Friday. “That’s what we’re dealing with today and that’s really what this bill is about.”
Cities can still prohibit beer and wine to-go sales by resolution.