SALISBURY, Md.— The Wicomico Board of License Commissioners decided unanimously Tuesday to join multiple jurisdictions opting in on continued carryout and delivery alcohol sales in Maryland.
Board Chair James Allen, leading an afternoon public hearing in the Government Office Building, described the measure as a balance between supporting the community and continuing to keep it safe.
“All of you have endured a pretty difficult year and period, and recovery efforts are something that’s ongoing and at various places for each of you,” Allen said, addressing business owners in the small crowd.
“The board does support this idea — but at the same time, we’re treading on some unprecedented areas here, and I’d like you all to bear that in mind.”
Gov. Larry Hogan initially allowed establishments to sell carryout alcohol under specific rules to aid struggling restaurants and bars during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hogan used his state of emergency declaration to circumvent county liquor boards.
During the legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly approved the permanent sale of carryout alcohol — a new law requiring individual counties to opt-in.
Wicomico County’s hearing allowed board members to hear from two local businesses, while Board Attorney Richard Duvall also provided letters from the Shore’s state delegation, Acting County Executive John Psota, the Salisbury Arts and Entertainment District and more, in support of the new law.
In neighboring Worcester County, officials announced June 22 that carryout alcohol would be discontinued once Maryland’s state of emergency is lifted. The county had the option to continue the service by opting into the new state law but declined to do so.
“The devastating impacts that the pandemic has caused the restaurant in industry … are still being felt,” said Bill Chambers, president and CEO of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, as he urged Wicomico County’s board to opt in on state legislation.
The board did just that, capping off a hearing that spanned fewer than 40 minutes.
“The board has approved the opt in,” Allen said to the small gathering.
Businesses can reach out to the board as soon as Wednesday to request authorization.
“The intent is each order of food can go out with one order of alcohol,” Duvall said, chuckling slightly as he watched audience members nod in his direction. The attorney said he sensed confusion in days leading up to the hearing.
The board also approved its guidelines in continuing the service.
A business looking to continue providing carryout and delivery alcohol must request a “Board letter of authorization,” according to the county’s public hearing posting.
All transactions of this kind must conclude by 11 p.m., and transactions should include prepared food, delivery by someone of legal drinking age and drinks contained in “the manufacturer’s fully sealed container,” according to the board.
Other rules include:
- Checking identification of those ordering
- No delivery outside of the county or on the premise of a different licensed business
- Liquor may not be sold by the bottle
- No more than two containers containing alcohol may be sold per transaction — “transaction” meaning per-person ordering a meal
- No more than one manufacturer-sealed “six pack” or one bottle of wine may be sold per transaction
- Mixed drink, cocktails and draft beer may each not exceed 16 ounces
- Wine by-the-glass would be limited to 9 ounces
- Licensed business must keep a logbook of all delivery transactions on a form provided by the board
Under the adopted regulations, letters of authorization thus-issued would expire June 30, 2023.
Kelly PowersSalisbury Daily Times