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Restaurant Alcohol Delivery To Stick Around As Florida's Economy Reopens? DeSantis Hints Legislature Might Take That Up

Virus Outbreak Florida
Chris O'Meara/AP
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a coronavirus news conference Tuesday, May 5, 2020, in Sarasota, Fla. Florida has set up a state run COVID-19 testing site at the University Town Center mall in Sarasota. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Flanked by Sarasota area lawmakers, Gov. Ron DeSantis hinted the Florida Legislature may look at permanently allowing restaurants to deliver alcohol, something he permitted in a March executive order

One added permission for Florida restaurants brought on by COVID-19’s disruption might be sticking around: Alcohol delivery.

In his March 20 executive order closing restaurants’ dining rooms, Governor Ron DeSantis permitted delivery of adult beverages. He says it’s something he's interested in making permanent, even as the state enters its phased reopening of the economy:

"I allowed them to deliver alcohol, I think that’s been pretty popular – I think we’re going to keep that going," DeSantis said Tuesday. "Maybe we’ll have the legislature change the law on that."

Speaking in Sarasota, DeSantis was flanked by area lawmakers, Republican Senate President Bill Galvano and Senator Joe Gruters, as well as Democratic Representative Wengay Newton and two other Republican members of the Florida House.

The Florida Legislature's next regularly-scheduled session won't come until March of 2021. A number of Democratic lawmakers have called for a special session to take up COVID-19 issues - something DeSantis has said he would like to avoid.

Since the beginning of this week, restaurants in the state have been permitted to open at 25 percent indoor capacity and provide outside seating, except in three South Florida counties.

DeSantis said he would "absolutely" feel comfortable taking his family out to eat at a restaurant right now, in an apparent effort to inspire consumer confidence as many businesses are opting to reopen under the restrictions.

"What I want people to do is go in, feel safe, understand that you can do it," the Governor said. "All the restaurants are going to be very cognizant about safety, and I know a lot of the patrons are going to be cognizant about safety as well."

Still, some restaurants are making the decision to keep their doors closed to customers, even as restrictions are relaxed.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.