Del. Restaurants, Bars May Be Able To Keep Expanded Outdoor Spaces

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Delaware bars and restaurants that expanded outdoor seating during the COVID-19 pandemic would no longer face a sunset provision, under a bill introduced in the General Assembly. The measure would also allow for continuation of to-go sales of alcohol.

Representative Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach and State Senator Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes are sponsoring a bill that would lift the sunset on the special provisions, which currently are slated to expire at the end of March.

The General Assembly approved legislation to allow establishments to take these measures in 2020 and extended the provisions in 2021.

“While the pandemic has been extremely challenging for families and businesses across the state and country, it also has forced us to get creative at times. Restaurants and bars were among the hardest-hit industries these past two years, and we had to use some ingenuity to provide assistance,” Schwartzkopf said. “The outdoor dining and to-go cocktails options have been extremely popular and have allowed restaurants and bars to serve patrons safely. These innovations are about to expire, but even as this health crisis continues, it’s clear that there is a market and a desire for these practices to continue for good.” 

The House Administration Committee is scheduled to consider legislation to lift the sunset provision Tuesday.

“This important bipartisan legislation enables our local restaurants to focus on what they do best:  serving customers and increasing the positive economic impact made on our local communities,” Lopez said. “Too often, some in government have arbitrarily told businesses what they can’t do. This approach must stop.  With this bill, we listened to our restaurant owners and worked together to address concerns.  This legislation exemplifies the type of meaningful public policy that expands economic growth and supports local businesses that Speaker Schwartzkopf and I will continue to advance during this session of the General Assembly.”