By Dave Williams
Capitol Beat News Service
ATLANTA - Georgians reluctant to patronize bars during the coronavirus pandemic will be able to have adult beverages delivered to their homes under legislation Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law Monday.
House Bill 879, which cleared the General Assembly in June during the final week of this year’s legislative session, will let restaurants, supermarkets and liquor stores make home deliveries of beer, wine and distilled spirits in Georgia, subject to the approval of local voters. The bill also allows alcohol retailers to provide to-go services.
“This new law represents the balance of safe, convenient delivery while maintaining the rights for local governments to decide what is best for their community,” said Martin Smith, executive director of the Georgia Beer Wholesalers Association. “We want to thank Governor Kemp and the Georgia legislature for setting a high standard for the safe delivery of alcohol in our state.”
Throughout the debate on the bill, which was introduced by state Rep. Brett Harrell, R-Snellville, supporters argued legalizing home delivery of alcoholic beverages was particularly timely in the midst of a global pandemic that forced Georgians to shelter in their homes and, even after shelter-in-place orders were lifted, left many wary of venturing out to bars or restaurants.
“Without leaving their homes, Georgians can now safely purchase products from their favorite locally licensed retailers,” said KC Honeyman, executive director of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Georgia. “We are extremely excited for the opportunity that has been created for our local retailer partners to tap into the home delivery market supported by Georgia’s family-owned wholesalers.”
Harrell’s bill also broadens the so-called “Sunday brunch bill” the General Assembly passed two years ago allowing restaurants, hotels and wineries to serve alcohol on premises starting at 11 a.m. on Sundays. The new law allows sales of liquor by grocery stores for off-premises consumption as well.
House Bill 879 also expands the current state law allowing tastings of limited amounts of beer, wine and spirits from just wineries and distilleries to package stores.
When given the chance, Georgians have not hesitated to support easing traditional restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages. After the General Assembly passed legislation in 2011 legalizing Sunday sales of alcohol, voters in communities large and small across the state ratified Sunday sales by large margins.
Capitol Beat is a nonprofit news service operated by the Georgia Press Educational Foundation that provides coverage of state government through Georgia Press Association members, such as the White County News.