New Maryland alcohol carryout option helps small business, but for how long?


HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — As a health precaution, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan closed dine-in services at all bars and restaurants last month, but in a departure from previous regulations, he allowed alcohol as a carry-out option.

Hogan’s edict maintains that alcohol may be sold, “if promptly taken from the premises before consumption.” The governor’s office said the move is “to protect restaurants’ ability to do carry-out and hope people will support these efforts.”

Other states have followed suit. New York requires the alcohol purchase also include a food order.

Hagerstown’s Benny’s Pub is about to celebrate 14 years in business but the coronavirus has killed crowds who would be there now watching March Madness. The establishment has had 20 private party cancellations from COVD-19 protocols and will likely have to cancel their annual 5K “Beer Mile” festivity popular with patrons.

“This has been devastating to everybody,” says Bill Skomski, Benny Pub’s owner. “But we’re grateful to the governor and Washington County liquor board that we can sell liquor in a sealed container.”

The move does help recover some of the lost revenue from closing the premises to dine-in guests. The governor’s order will remain in effect until the end of the state of emergency. Many establishments are wondering about their being able to survive.

“We’ve been scheduling so many events here and a lot of them have just had to be canceled,” an emotional Stacey Gatrell explains. The uncertainly of when “things can get back to normal” for her welcoming the community back to Benny’s is a nerve-wracking obsession.

In the meantime, Bill and Stacey will prepare the to-go orders and, when requested, pour that alcoholic beverage in a sealed cup.

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