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New laws permitting alcohol delivery + to-go in Arkansas, explained

by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette , Nyssa Kruse | July 6, 2021 at 3:48 p.m.
FILE — The state Capitol is shown in this file photo.

This story is a part of The Article, your guide to Arkansas news and culture, presented by the Democrat-Gazette. Sign up for The Article's twice-weekly newsletter here or to see stories that have appeared in past newsletters, go here.

State laws making pandemic rules allowing restaurants, liquor stores and breweries to deliver alcoholic beverages permanent are among multiple statutes related to alcohol that will take effect this month.

Back up: What rules changed during the pandemic?

On March 17, 2020, Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued an executive order that in part directed state agencies to identify any laws or rules that prevented the state from rendering “maximum assistance to the citizens of this state” while pandemic guidelines were in place.

The state Department of Finance and Administration responded with a temporary rule change allowing restaurants licensed to sell beer and wine to include those products with delivery of food items in counties where liquor sales are legal, but did not permit the establishments to deliver liquor.

Liquor stores, distilleries, small breweries and small farm wineries were also allowed to offer delivery.

The order and temporary rule changes expired May 30, when Hutchinson allowed the state's public health emergency declaration to come to an end.

What do the laws allow?

Two laws, Act 158 and Act 703, essentially make those rules permanent.

Act 158 allows liquor permit holders to deliver alcoholic beverages directly to the private residence of a consumer aged 21 or older in a "wet" county.

Act 703 authorizes restaurants with alcoholic beverage permits to deliver to consumers. It also goes further than the pandemic rule, allowing restaurants to deliver to consumers or allow them to take to-go up to 32 ounces of a mixed drink.

[Searchable table of alcohol laws not appearing above? Click here » arkansasonline.com/74liquor/]

The law limits delivered or to-go beer sales to a standard six-pack and wine sales to one bottle.

What do some of the other laws allow?

There are a handful of other newly passed laws related to alcohol set to take effect soon. They include:

Act 874 allows restaurants and other establishments in dry counties to create entertainment districts with the local governing body's approval.

Act 1060 allows hard cider manufacturers to deliver or cause to be delivered hard cider directly to the private residence of a customer 21 or older in a wet county.

Act 578 allows beer and light wine wholesalers to sell ready-to-drink products containing spirituous liquor with a final finished product of no greater than 15% alcohol by weight.

Read more about these laws and others passed during the legislative session from reporter Rachel Herzog and sign up for our politics newsletter to stay up-to-date on news from the General Assembly.

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