By Hunter Hines
Christian Action League
December 21, 2020
Today Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 182, which authorizes and instructs the ABC Commission to allow certain mixed beverage permittees (restaurants, hotels, private clubs, private bars, and holders of distillery permits) to sell and deliver mixed beverages for off-site consumption.
According to the Governor’s office, the purpose of the Order is two-fold.
The state is reportedly “experiencing a severe and critical spike in COVID 19 cases, and it is crucial that the state continue its efforts to minimize transmission of the virus.” The Order would work to limit the number of people who come at one time to restaurants, hotels, bars, etc.
It would also “provide relief to bars, restaurants, and other businesses, by enabling an additional revenue opportunity through the sale of mixed beverages to go.”
During the North Carolina General Assembly’s Short Session, a provision for mixed beverages to go was included in the COVID relief bill, HB 1043 – Pandemic Response Act. It passed in the N.C. House, but the State Senate had the wisdom to take it out.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, responded with the following statement:
“I recognize this legislation has good intentions. It’s supposed to help the ailing restaurant and lodging industry, but it also hurts another segment of our state’s citizens. Drinking is sky high during the pandemic. This dynamic poses a unique challenge for people suffering from alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder. People who drink too much weaken their immune system and become more susceptible to respiratory ailments like pneumonia and possibly the coronavirus.
“Whenever we create additional means for people to get alcohol, the science says dangerous consumption levels rise. Curbside cocktails create scenarios that make impaired driving and underage drinking more likely, despite the safeguards put in place.
“What’s more, I think it could work against the state’s overarching goal of keeping Emergency Rooms and hospitals freed up. I believe our Republican friends in the Senate saw the wisdom of not including this in their COVID relief bill. So it’s unfortunate the Governor is obviously listening to the wrong people on this issue. I don’t know of anyone involved in the science of alcohol policy that would agree with or endorse the Governor’s executive order, even as a temporary arrangement.
“Personally, I believe if the Governor really wishes to help an ailing hospitality industry, then he should lift the draconian lockdowns on their businesses and allow them to open up. I don’t mean to say that the coronavirus isn’t real. Nevertheless, none of this makes any sense for a virus which 99.4-6% of those who contract it recover; for which the median age of death is 78-80 with comorbidities; for which there isn’t even one single verified case of reinfection, and for which getting past this pandemic relies on herd immunity and openness. The lockdowns don’t make any sense from either a medical or economic perspective. Until recently, medical experts for decades warned against disturbing social functioning in the event of disease. Yet this is exactly what’s happening.
“So I don’t know why the hospitality industry would find anything about the Governor’s executive order acceptable. These pandemic policies are wrong-headed, to begin with, and curbside cocktails just add insult to injury by exacerbating a different set of dangers.”
The Order takes effect today, December 21, starting at 5:00 p.m. It is supposed to end, January 31, 2021.
The Governor’s Executive Order says that this is something only temporary. Perhaps, but not likely,” added Rev. Creech. “The typical scenario is that once a policy like this is allowed, there comes a strong push to make it permanent. Once allowed, it’s usually always allowed. This is not responsible alcohol policy.”
According to Fortune Magazine, “The coronavirus is shaking up America’s liquor laws. At least 33 states and the District of Columbia are temporarily allowing cocktails to-go during the pandemic. Only two — Florida and Mississippi — allowed them on a limited basis before coronavirus struck, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.”
“It’s sad that few people will make a big deal out of this kind of thing most of the time. That is until one of their loved ones is killed from a drunk driving incident or some serious alcohol-related health issue. Americans love their booze to death,” said Rev. Creech. “I tell you, alcohol use and abuse affects people negatively on numerous levels of life, and you can be sure the losses it creates make the coronavirus losses pale in comparison.”