A moment of sheer panic among craft beer drinkers and brewery staff members occurred late Monday afternoon when new orders from the office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham included the closing of all liquor stores to in-person sales.
After a few anxious minutes of waiting, we were informed by Alcohol Beverage Control, via the New Mexico Brewers Guild, that breweries are exempt and can continue to sell beer to go. Liquor stores, payday lenders, and auto dealers will have to close at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, which were new additions to the list of non-essential businesses. We later learned that craft distilleries are also exempt and can continue to sell their to-go package as well.
While this is a reason to let out a sigh of relief, it is still a sign that this is a constantly developing situation, and things could change as the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 continues to rise in New Mexico. Breweries are still expected to maintain strict social distancing rules when it comes to customers lining up to purchase beer (and sometimes food) to go.
UPDATE (2:30 p.m., April 7): We received a copy of the official notice from Alcohol Beverage Control. It does confirm that breweries and craft distilleries can remain open for to-go orders. However, it also confirms that liquor stores will not be able to remain open, even with phone/internet orders only and curbside pickup. We had reported later Monday night that liquor stores would still be able to operate in this manner, but that is no longer (or simply never was) the case. In addition, despite its own claims it could remain open as it is considered a grocery store, we have heard from brewery sources that Total Wine is being forced to shut down by the State of New Mexico.
As long as you can continue to do so safely, please continue to support with takeout orders from breweries and other local businesses that are still allowed to remain open. The breweries will lose some revenue when they are unable to sell as many packaged beer through stores like Jubilation, Kelly’s, and Quarters, and nationally it does appear sales are down for packaged products as many people stocked up heavily. If you still have room in that beer fridge, consider adding a little more.
Just remember, pace yourselves when drinking the local beers you have on hand, because you never know when the next government edict could be issued.