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McMaster issues order allowing SC restaurants to offer alcohol for curbside pickup

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Keg Cowboy / Photo by John Carlos

Many restaurants in South Carolina are embracing takeout and delivery service as a way to cope following Gov. Henry McMaster’s March 17 order, in response to the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, that restaurants cannot serve dine-in customers.

And, in updating Free Times’ list of Midlands spots using such tactics on Saturday morning, we came across a Facebook post from Lexington beer and sandwich mecca Keg Cowboy attempting to explain a counterintuitive intricacy of Palmetto State regulations.

“I CAN put beer or wine in your to go bag,” the update reads, explaining how the business will be selling beer and wine for off-site consumption. “I CAN NOT open it, and I CAN NOT bring it to you curbside. If you would like a bottle of wine or a few beers to go, you have to step inside and pick it up. No, it doesn’t make sense, but those are the guidelines.”

You see, while many restaurants and bars have turned to to-go orders — including beer and wine — to bring in some revenue while living under the new restrictions, state law forbids any kind of delivery of those items, including curbside pickup. Even if forcing you to go into an establishment goes against the very social-distancing McMaster’s initial restaurant order was meant to promote.

“Any business with On-Premises Beer/Wine Permit is authorized to sell beer and wine to-go,” the Department of Revenue wrote in a Thursday special announcement clarifying the policy. “Customers may enter the business or walk up (NOT drive up) to a window to purchase beer and wine to-go.”

On March 21, McMaster gave those balking at the restrictions in this climate at least some of what they wanted. Like the leaders of Maryland, Texas, California and other states, he loosened the state’s barriers to the purchase of beer and wine with Executive Order 2020-12, which, per a release from the governor’s office, “directs the Department of Revenue to waive additional regulations in order to allow restaurants to include sealed containers of beer and wine for curbside pickup or ‘to-go’ orders only. This waiver does not authorize or apply to open containers or delivery services.”

It’s not fully to the level of some states — like New York, which now permits delivery of alcohol as long as it accompanies food. But it does allow spots like Keg Cowboy to deliver booze directly to customers’ cars — and do less explaining.

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