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Bethesda Magazine: County Council urges governor, comptroller to keep allowing alcohol delivery

As Montgomery County businesses seek ways to survive during the pandemic and partial shutdown, having the state’s permission to sell alcohol through delivery and carryout have helped save some from closing.

Council Member Andrew Friedson said he has repeatedly heard from countless local businesses that Gov. Larry Hogan’s March 16 executive order allowing restaurants, distilleries, bars and other places to sell wine, beer and spirits for delivery and takeout has kept them from shutting down.

“Thousands across the state would have had to shut their doors in the early part of this health crisis,” Friedson said. “They have consistently said — and raised consistent issues with — what happens when the state of emergency ends?”

Friedson spearheaded a County Council letter to Hogan and state Comptroller Peter Franchot on Friday that asks the state to extend the provision beyond the duration of the state of emergency — until the Maryland General Assembly meets in January and decides whether to write it into law or discontinue it.

“It is critical that we do not attempt to return to the old normal at a time that requires all of us in the public and private sectors to adapt to the reality of a new normal,” the council wrote in the letter.

Friedson told Bethesda Beat that people might not immediately return to restaurants once a reopening phase begins. With high levels of unemployment, people also might not spend as much as they used to at businesses, he said.

“This is an industry that has been hit among the hardest … and will continue to feel the lasting and lingering impacts of the public health emergency,” he said, adding that extending the provision would add relief.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Franchot, who lives in Montgomery County, said he and Hogan received the letter.

“As your Comptroller and chief alcohol regulator, I wholeheartedly agree with the premise of the letter and am happy to support this request,” he wrote. “This has been a lifeline for small businesses that otherwise would have failed in the early weeks of this pandemic, and it must remain so as our hospitality industry faces years, and not just months, of transition, uncertainty and hopeful recovery.”

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