Beer from Maine craft breweries is seen in this 2020 file photo. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Maine lawmakers are considering a proposal to extend takeout alcohol through September 2022.

Restaurants and bars in Maine have been allowed to sell alcohol via takeout and delivery service during the coronavirus pandemic as long as liquor is accompanied by a food order. Democratic Sen. Louis Luchini of Ellsworth has proposed extending the provision until Sept. 10, 2022.

The Maine Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee voted Feb. 17 to approve the proposal, which must now go before the full Legislature.

Luchini’s proposal would also allow Maine distilleries, including small distilleries that operate tasting rooms but lack on-site retail businesses, to sell spirits via takeout and delivery. Those businesses would be able to sell the products regardless of a food order, Maine Democrats said.

Greg Dugal of Hospitality Maine said in testimony about the bill that “it will be years before restaurateurs get back to the level of business they once had.” That means the extension of the takeout alcohol provision is necessary to keep businesses afloat, he said.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills used a March 2020 executive order to permit takeout alcohol sales. Loss of the ability to sell takeout alcohol because of the expiration of the order could be “devastating,” Dugal said.