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Ohio Bill Would Allow Restaurants To Expand Patios And Deliver Alcohol

Greg Lehman is one of the owners of Watershed Distillery.
Courtesy of Watershed
Greg Lehman is one of the owners of Watershed Distillery.

A new Ohio House bill would allow bars and restaurants to expand their seating and service into parking lots or public grounds. They’d also be able to sell alcohol for delivery through third-party services such as GrubHub or Doordash.

Watershed Distillery in Columbus has a small restaurant on site, but owner Greg Lehman says current social distancing requirements are tough. To reopen indoor dining, Ohio requires restaurants to space parties six feet apart or place physical barriers between them.

“We don’t have a lot of room for people to come in, so by allowing us extra space on a patio or converting a parking lot, it allows us to put more people in seats, which lets us see a clearer path to economic viability," Lehman says.

The bill, sponsored by state Reps. Jeff Lare (R-Violet Twsp.) and D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron), would permanently allow third-party delivery services to deliver an unlimited number of alcoholic drinks to customers over the age of 21.

“Bars and restaurants have barely been able to stay afloat during COVID by offering takeout food and beverages, including to-go alcohol,” Swearingen said in a statement. “It’s important to allow them to continue with these sales even when they begin to open because of the limitations their facilities face with social distancing protocols.”

Under current COVID-19 rules, customers are limited to two packaged drinks with pick-up orders.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.