As North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper continues to grant bars and restaurants permission to carry-out and deliver alcoholic beverages in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, local Uptown Greenville, North Carolina, businesses and law enforcement continue to adjust to the executive order.
This order came after Cooper’s call for a 10 p.m. curfew effective Dec. 11, however, to-go drinks can be ordered after 10 p.m. if the restaurant permits. The executive order runs from Dec. 21 to Jan. 31, and limits each person to one drink, according to the Frequently Asked Questions document for Executive Order No. 183.
East Carolina University Police Department Lieutenant Chris Sutton said in an email statement he urges students who order carryout drinks to be safe. He said the department has had little problems with the enforcement of the curfew among students.
Sutton said to-go drinks can be problematic because the state law prohibits open containers of alcohol within a motor vehicle. He said if the beverage is packaged in such a way that consumption would be possible while the car is in motion, it makes a difficult judgement call for officers.
“Transporting the good can be a challenging temptation,” Sutton said. “How many times have you purchased a coke, tea or coffee while driving and instinctively drunk the beverage? The motorist and passengers must be committed to not consuming any of the beverage while in transit.”
Sutton said it is too early to tell if the to-go drink order will help slow the spread of the virus. He said if the public continues to stay in small groups and observe the 3 W’s, washing hands, wearing a mask and waiting six feet apart, they will keep themselves and others safe.
Sutton said students who order drinks curbside should be careful as it will require strong willpower. He said the transportation of drinks can be dangerous for people on the roads, so these individuals should remember to make good decisions.
“You should never get behind the wheel of a vehicle while consuming or after consuming alcohol,” Sutton said. “Your life and the lives of others is far more valuable than the risk of drinking while driving.”
Sutton said another challenge of the order would be ensuring that all beverages are given to those who are at least 21 years old.
Although an ID is required to be shown upon delivery, he said once the product is sold there is no way to know when or by whom the beverage is consumed.
“I would caution anyone underage to be aware of the penalties for underage consumption, just as I would encourage motorists to be aware of the open container charges that could apply to them,” Sutton said. “Anyone under the age of 21 cannot have any alcohol in their system and can be charged with a provisional DWI (Drinking While Impaired).”
Co-owner of Luna Pizza Cafe Richard Williams said he was pleasantly surprised when he got word that the restaurant could begin to serve to-go cocktails.
Williams said the restaurant offers its four most popular beverages for carryout: Old Fashioned, Moscow Mule, Cucumber Martini and Luna Lemonade.
“If nothing else I think it generated a little excitement,” Williams said. “One of our more popular posts on Instagram and Facebook this year was when we announced our to-go cocktails, so that gives us a little bit of buzz.”
Williams said it took approximately a week for all the proper supplies to come in for the packaging of the drinks. The order has specific instructions that drinks must be sealed, labeled and kept in the passenger area of a vehicle.
Takeout Pros is a local delivery service that Williams said contacted him when the order was issued in an effort to post Luna’s menu to its website. Williams said Takeout Pros has been helpful with deliveries.
“The state has created a learning module for delivery drivers so that they know (the rules),” Williams said. “Once a delivery driver picks a drink up it becomes their responsibility to card the person when they deliver, and make sure if there’s three cocktails then there’s three adults.”
Williams said Luna’s cocktails would be too complex to try to make from home due to the variety of ingredients needed.
The restaurant has been given great feedback now that they offer to-go drinks, according to Williams.
“We feel very lucky that we’ve had some really nice, loyal customers who have been terrific throughout this entire thing,” Williams said. “We just feel very lucky to be in the position that we’re in, despite how awful 2020 was.”
Some Uptown Greenville businesses have not been as affected by the new order, as they had previous permits that allowed them to offer carryout drinks.
Drew Cheshire, assistant manager of Uptown Brewing Company, said since they serve beer and not liquor, they were able to offer drinks to-go before the governor’s new order.
“We’ve been doing it for three or four years already,” Cheshire said. “We do the crowler cans where we fill them up with beer from the tap and we seal them up and then they’re fresh for two or three weeks.”
Although the to-go drink order has not impacted the brewery, the business’s hours have been impacted by the 10 p.m. curfew.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cheshire said Uptown Brewery closed at 10 p.m. on weeknights, but now it cannot serve alcohol after 9 p.m.
“On the weekends normally when there’s no COVID(-19), we are open until midnight, but now with the curfew we are having to shut down way earlier,” Cheshire said.