Rhode Island Senate approves bills to help restaurant industry


PROVIDENCE, RI (WLNE) – The State Senate today approved two measures that are intended to help the restaurant industry as it continues to face the challenges of the pandemic.

The first measure aims to eliminate the March 1 date that would end the law allowing take-out drinks with their food orders. The measure has found a lot of popularity across the state, even getting a push to expand to delivery as well. For the moment, the measure only concerns take-out drinks.

Senator Gallo, the sponsor of this measure, said:

“Our restaurant industry includes so many valuable small businesses that make Rhode Island a special place. They need all the tools available to survive the pandemic. To-go drinks have helped them stay afloat, generate a little more revenue, and keep paying their employees and supporting our economy.

“They were also popular with consumers and encouraged them to order more often. Restaurants and consumers have shown that take-out beverages can be handled very responsibly, so we have every reason to make it a permanent feature of our state’s restaurant scene.

The second measure would continue to allow restaurants to offer outdoor dining during the pandemic. The measure imposes a moratorium on the enforcement of zoning requirements and municipal ordinances that would fine property owners for altering and alternating their property. This moratorium would be in effect until April 1, 2023.

Senator DiMario, the sponsor of this measure, released a statement about his approval,

“This bill is essential for our restaurants and bars which are still struggling to recover from the effects of the pandemic”,

“The legislation will also allow these establishments to apply to make these successful and popular changes, such as outdoor dining areas and take-out windows, permanent. Municipalities have advised that they have not had sufficient time to obtain temporary zoning changes through their appropriate channels to make them permanent and that this extension is welcome.

These bills are now being sent to the House of Representatives for approval.

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