BOSTON – Restaurants would be able to sell cocktails with to-go orders and the fees third-party delivery services charge restaurants would be capped under an industry relief bill that began moving in the House on Tuesday.
The House Ways and Means Committee gave its members until 11:15 a.m. Tuesday to vote on both the new restaurant bill (H 4354) and its version of a vote-by-mail bill (H 4762) that cleared the Election Laws Committee on Monday, which aims to expand options for voters in this fall’s elections in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The restaurants bill includes language saying the industry has been “significantly impacted” by COVID-19 and social distancing, and that “the preservation and fiscal stability of the restaurant industry is critical to the economic security and cultural vitality of the commonwealth.”
It includes a provision waiving late fees and interest on delayed meals tax payments, a measure House Speaker Robert DeLeo told the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce last month that House lawmakers were looking into, and language around municipal approval for outdoor dining and alcohol service.
Restaurants and bars, which are already allowed to sell limited quantities of beer and wine with takeout and delivery food orders during the COVID-19 state of emergency, would also be allowed, under the bill, to sell mixed drinks to go, in sealed containers and with customers limited to 64 ounces of mixed drinks per transaction.
The bill would bar third-party delivery services from charging restaurants a fee per online order that exceeds 15 percent of the order’s purchase price.
House Democrats are holding a tele-caucus at noon and plan a formal session Wednesday, when the restaurant and voting reform bills could be up for votes.