COLUMBUS—State Senator Andrew Brenner (R-Powell) announced that Governor Mike DeWine signed both House Bills 669 and 160 into law earlier this month, both of which provide Ohio’s restaurants, bars and wineries with additional flexibility to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
"Our local restaurants, bars and wineries have born the economic brunt of COVID-19 restrictions and have met the challenge by creatively adapting in order to both safely serve their customers and keep their businesses open," Brenner said. "These bills give them more flexibility and reduce burdensome restrictions."
House Bill 669 allows bars and restaurants to permanently sell sealed alcoholic beverages, or “to-go drinks,” for off-premises consumption and includes consumer protections added by the Senate. It also extends the authorization for restaurants and bars to expand the area in which they conduct on-site alcohol services – including outdoor areas such as parking lots and sidewalks – through December 31, 2022. During the committee process, the bill received strong support from a number of businesses and organizations, including the Ohio Restaurant Association.
To further help the restaurant and service industry recover, the Senate also passed House Bill 160. This bill doubles the maximum number of Designated Outdoor Refreshment Areas (DORAs) that may be created in a municipality or township. The bill also removes burdensome regulations from Ohio’s small wineries, allowing them to sell pre-packaged food without being subject to regulation by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.