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Howard liquor board votes to extend to-go alcohol sales

The Howard County Board of License Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday evening to allow restaurants, bars and taverns in the county to continue to sell to-go alcoholic beverages.

The policy allows alcoholic beverages, including cocktails and mixed drinks, to be available for carryout or delivery from licensed establishments through at least June 30, 2023. There are several rules for how certain alcoholic beverages can be sold or delivered for off-premise consumption according to the liquor board’s rules, including that they must be purchased along with prepared food other than prepackaged snacks.

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Other limitations include that beverages must be in the manufacturer’s original sealed container or in a “container closed with a cap, cork, seal, or lid with no holes for straws or sipping”; cannot be sold or delivered later than 11 p.m.; and can only be delivered within the county.

“I don’t think we’ve had any adverse impacts over the past year from allowing people to do it,” David Yungmann, the county liquor board chair, said last month.

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The liquor board is comprised of the County Council members: Yungmann, Liz Walsh, Christiana Rigby, Deb Jung and Opel Jones.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan last year issued an emergency order to help struggling restaurants and bars by allowing them to provide carryout and delivery drinks amid the coronavirus pandemic. In May, Hogan signed a bill allowing the sales for at least two more years, but gave local liquor boards the final authority.

When the COVID-19 state of emergency was officially lifted July 1, many jurisdictions in Maryland chose to pause to-go drinks, including in Baltimore City, as well as Baltimore, Carroll and Harford counties. At that time, however, Howard County said it would continue allowing carryout drinks through at least Aug. 15, which is the grace period at the end of the state executive order.

Now that policy will last until at least June 2023 in Howard.

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The Baltimore County liquor board voted Monday to resume to-go liquor privileges for bars, restaurants and taverns for at least two years with the restriction of two drinks per meal.

The Carroll County Liquor Board on Wednesday said restaurants and bars can once again provide carryout and delivery of alcoholic beverages, but that there would be another public hearing next month to give owners the opportunity to review the proposed policy and provide feedback.

Harford’s liquor board will meet July 28, and Baltimore City’s Board of Liquor License Commissioners plans to look at the rules for all licenses in the fall, including those on to-go drinks.

Baltimore Sun Media reporters Cameron Goodnight and Madison Bateman contributed to this article.

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