Lawmakers advance measure to bring more booze to movie theaters in New York—’Someone should be able to enjoy a cocktail while they watch a movie,’ senator says

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New York would expand access to booze by allowing movie theaters to sell liquor and continuing to let people buy takeout cocktails from bars and restaurants under a series of measures unveiled Thursday.

The state Assembly passed the measures Thursday, which are part of the larger state budget agreement. The state Senate is expected to follow before it’s sent to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s desk for signature. The deal was struck between Hochul and leaders of the state Senate and Assembly after a series of closed-door talks.

Movie theaters in New York are only allowed to sell beer and wine, according to the New York State Liquor Authority, but this new legislation would add liquor to the mix.

“Someone should be able to enjoy a cocktail while they watch a movie,” said state Sen. James Skoufis, a Democrat who chairs a legislative committee where state alcohol laws pass through.

The measure comes with guardrails in an attempt to maintain a family-friendly environment at theatres that have licenses to sell booze. People would only be allowed to purchase one alcoholic beverage per transaction, and theaters must stop selling alcohol once the credits start rolling in for the last showing of the day.

New Yorkers would also be allowed to buy takeout cocktails at restaurants and bars for the next five years under another measure part of the state budget. The rule was set to expire next year after the state temporarily authorized the sale of to-go alcoholic drinks during the pandemic.

Skoufis, who supports keeping that measure permanent, said “it provides some short-term certainty for restaurants and businesses doing this.”

Lawmakers in Albany voted Thursday to push the state’s budget deadline again, though they are expected to vote on package of budget bills later in the week. Hochul announced on Monday the framework of a $237 billion budget, about two weeks after the original April 1 deadline.

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