Arizona restaurants could be in jeopardy of losing ‘to-go’ liquor sales

Nov 11, 2020, 4:45 AM | Updated: 9:35 pm

PHOENIX — A lawsuit from West Valley bar and restaurant owners sought to freeze executive orders from Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to close them if they spread coronavirus, but now some restaurants may be in jeopardy of losing their to-go liquor sales.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge’s ruling on Monday reverses Ducey’s decision to give restaurants an extra line of revenue by allowing them to sell alcohol to-go.

“The court found most of the governor’s actions were legal and authorized under law in the Arizona Constitution,” KTAR News 92.3 FM legal analyst Monica Lindstrom said.

Judge Pamela Gates ruled that the governor allowing suspension of enforcement of certain parts of the liquor license law exceeded his authority, Lindstrom added.

“The governor allowed restaurants to sell alcohol ‘to-go’ even if it violated the individual license holder’s license,” Lindstrom said. “The court found this exceeded his authority and allowed the preliminary injunction to stop allowing this to occur.”

Arizona has a number of liquor licenses which have different privileges.

A series 6 “bar license” and a series 7 “beer and wine bar license” allow establishments to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises as well as consumption off the licensed premises as long as the alcohol is in an unopened container. Meanwhile, a series 12 “restaurant license” allows an establishment to only sell liquor and spirits on the premises.

Ducey’s executive orders superseded these requirements in an effort to help establishments that are facing coronavirus restrictions.

It’s unclear when the enforcement would take effect, but the governor’s office is reviewing the decision.

“We want to make sure that we continue to help small businesses, and the Arizonans they employ, navigate through this pandemic,” spokesman Patrick Ptak said in a statement.

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Arizona restaurants could be in jeopardy of losing ‘to-go’ liquor sales