New law offers relief for restaurants, municipalities

Gov. Baker on Friday signed a bill enabling some restaurants during the ongoing state of emergency to include beer and wine sales with food takeout/delivery orders and pushing the tax-filing deadline to July 15.

The restaurant provision in the bill emphasizes that sales to people under 21 are not permitted and requires those delivering orders to verify that the recipient is 21 or older. Such sales must be placed not later than the hour to which the establishment is licensed to sell alcohol or midnight, whichever time is earlier; and customers are limited to 192 ounces of malt beverage and 1.5 liters of wine per transaction.

The bill (H 4598), enacted by the Legislature on Thursday night, also includes measures giving municipalities deadline and scheduling flexibility on town meetings, tax payments and permits.

According to Sen. Becca Rausch and Rep. James O'Day, the co-chairs of the Municipalities Committee, the bill relaxes the timeframe within which to hold town meetings; facilitates extensions of local permits; and includes an option for municipalities to extend the deadline for real estate tax payments and waive late fees or other penalties for any delayed payments.

"There are many more issues facing cities and towns that require legislative action," Rausch and O'Day said. "We remain dedicated to this important work and wish everyone health, strength, and resilience during this unprecedented crisis."

The new law also includes a statewide prohibition on any termination of water, sewer, trash collection, or other essential municipal services if a resident is unable to pay local taxes or fees due to COVID-19-related hardship. - Michael P. Norton/SHNS


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