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Takeout cocktails now legal permanently in Nebraska

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David Beasley | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – Takeout cocktails, legalized during the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to help restaurants in Nebraska, are here to stay.

Gov. Pete Ricketts recently signed LB 274 into law, making his executive order during the pandemic permanent.

The bill will help restaurants financially, Zoe Olson, executive director of the Nebraska Restaurant Association, told The Center Square.

“This is only going to help,” Olson said. “Is it going to solve all our problems? Absolutely not.”

It is one factor, however, that can help the restaurants that survived the pandemic regain their strength, Olson said.

“The ones that survived demonstrated their flexibility and their really good business sense,” she said. “COVID was horrible. But we have learned things from it.”

Just because you can now take a cocktail home with you with your takeout food doesn’t mean you can drink it on the drive home, she stated. Nebraska’s open container law still applies.

“Our law is that a container must be sealed and it must be placed as far away from the driver as possible,” she said.

Other changes that evolved from COVID have been greater use of QR code menus so customers can view menus on their phones, Olson said.

“The menus don’t have to be reprinted, they can be changed,” she said. “When you have problems with the supply chain, like we did during the pandemic, you can change your menu without having to go to the printer. We’re not adding stuff to the landfill.”

The pandemic also convinced many restaurant owners to embrace contactless credit card payments so that customers no longer have to sign for their purchases.

“I’m sure that’s going to stick around,” said Olson.