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December 16, 2020

CT Brewers Guild asks Lamont, legislature to roll back ‘substantial meal’ requirement

Photo | CT Mirror/Mark Pazniokas Acting tax commissioner John Biello, left, and Gov. Ned Lamont wait in the Hooker Brewery taproom.

The Connecticut Brewers Guild is asking Gov. Ned Lamont and the state legislature to roll back a COVID-19 regulation requiring establishments to serve "substantial meals" with any alcohol consumed on-premise.

The guild, which is made up of 116 businesses, on Monday sent a letter addressed to Lamont along with top Democrats and Republicans in both houses of the General Assembly arguing the requirement that "substantial meals" be served with alcohol is too subjective, and creates problems for breweries that don't have kitchens. The letter is signed by Phil Papas, the Guild's executive director.

Rules set by the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) that went into effect Dec. 2 say establishments may only serve alcohol "as part of a substantial meal."

"While 95% of CT breweries do not have kitchens where they can prepare on-premise food, they are required to apply and pay for additional food permits, in a time where every penny counts," the letter says, adding that the meal requirement also means these breweries have to add space and buy new equipment.

In the letter, the guild suggested rolling back food requirements, while revisiting caps on the number of people allowed to sit together (the state established an eight-person limit). 

The Guild also pointed out that breweries in Connecticut employ about 6,500 people and contribute more than $753 million to the state’s economy, according to Papas.

"We need the immediate assistance and support from you, the General Assembly, DECD and local municipalities to keep these establishments open in the coming months and years that it will take to rebuild CT’s alcohol industry and economy," the letter said.

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December 16, 2020

I agree that breweries and wineries for that matter should not be subject to the "substantial meal" rule. Most places allow clients to bring food or they have food trucks. With safe social distancing and mask wearing except while seated, why is this required? If they want to set a 90 minute time limit for tables, that makes more sense to me. Our state can't afford to have any of these places go out of business.

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