Video: Our Spotlight Politics team on Springfield’s contentions spring session. (Produced by Alex Silets)
Illinois bars and taverns can now offer their thirsty patrons an incentive for getting vaccinated against COVID-19: free booze.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed SB104 on Wednesday, less than 72 hours after it passed the General Assembly, in an effort to boost businesses that have been among the hardest hit by the economic catastrophe caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and supercharge the state’s flagging vaccination rate.
The new law allows drinking establishments to offer adults a free alcoholic beverage with proof of vaccination between 6 and 10 p.m. on June 10 through July 10.
The measure also allows bars and restaurants to continue to sell to-go cocktails, preserving a much-loved option for those eager to add a boozy drink to their take-out order through Jan. 3, 2024. The original law, passed a year ago, was set to expire Thursday.
“Cocktails-to-go is a lifeline to restaurants to survive the pandemic,” said state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago). “Any tool we can provide to help keep this vibrant industry going while they are rebuilding is critical.”
The revised law also allows to-go servings of wine to be sold.
A measure introduced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot on May 26 would allow to-go cocktails to continue to be sold in Chicago as long as the state law remains in effect. The sale of to-go cocktails remains legal in Chicago because the original 2020 state law, revised by the bill signed Wednesday by the governor, remains in effect, said Isaac Reichman, a spokesperson for the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
However, aldermen have yet to act on the proposal from the mayor, which is mired in legislative limbo because of another part of Lightfoot’s proposal, which would ban the sale of liquor at stores after 10 p.m., brought widespread criticism.