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Alaska alcohol board approves beer and wine deliveries

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Alaska’s alcohol board has approved new rules allowing restaurants to home-deliver beer and wine alongside food deliveries. Liquor stores, bars, restaurants and breweries will be able to sell sealed bottles of beer, wine and liquor to curbside customers.

The rules become effective when signed by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, and an attorney from the Alaska Department of Law said that could take place as early as Wednesday evening.

The board voted unanimously to waive restrictions on alcohol sales, saying the move will help businesses suffering from pandemic-caused restrictions.

The vote followed an announcement from Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who said on Tuesday evening that he would suspend state law to make the rule change possible. At least 44 other states have either partially or wholly waived restrictions on alcohol deliveries in an effort to provide economic relief to businesses, and Alaska regulators been working for more than two weeks to do the same.

Alcohol board chairman Glenn Brady acknowledged that the changes will not satisfy all critics.

“We’re not going to make this terrible situation right for everybody. We’re trying to give a leg up for people who have been completely shut down,” he said.

Under the new rules, bars and restaurants can refill glass growlers, large glass bottles of beer typically sold by breweries.

Beer and wine can be home-delivered alongside food, but there are limits. Third-party delivery services like DoorDash or UberEats may not deliver alcohol. Alcohol deliveries are limited to twice the value of the delivered food. For example, a $50 bottle of wine requires a food order of at least $25. Liquor cannot be delivered.

Liquor can be sold curbside by liquor stores, bars, distilleries and other businesses already licensed to sell it. Only sealed bottles or cans can be sold: A bar cannot mix drinks and sell them in mason jars.

“We haven’t quite gotten to the drive-thru margarita, bloody mary slushie yet,” Brady said.

Sarah Oates, director of the alcohol trade group CHARR, said she believes the change will help businesses.

“This will help a sector of the industry that currently is extremely limited or completely unable to participate in commerce, and I am hopeful it will save a number of businesses from closing permanently or minimize some of their losses,” she said.

In a separate emergency meeting, the Alaska Marijuana Control Board failed to approve curbside and drive-thru sales, saying that the text of a proposed rules change needed to be rewritten. The marijuana board is scheduled to meet again at 11 a.m. Friday.

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