Oregonians will be able to get hard liquor delivered directly to their home even after the pandemic is over.
Earlier this month, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission voted to make rules allowing delivery and curbside pick-up of distilled spirits permanent, after voting in March to temporarily allow those options during the state’s pandemic shutdown. The OLCC did adjust the time frame for those deliveries, however, requiring they stop at 10 p.m. instead of 2:30 a.m.
Those delivering the alcohol must be at least 18 years old and must check the identification of the customer receiving the delivery or curbside pick-up to make sure they are at least 21 years of age and not visibly intoxicated.
Brad Irwin owns Oregon Spirit Distillers in Bend and is president of the Oregon Distillers Guild, which includes Oregon distilleries, such as Oregon Grain Growers in Pendleton. He said allowing curbside pick-up makes a lot of sense even after concerns about COVID-19 aren’t prevalent.
“That’s kind of where retail is going anyway,” he said, referencing grocery stores’ grocery pick-up options that were put in place before the pandemic.
He said delivery makes sense too as an option for people who might have a disability that makes it difficult to get in and out of a car, or lack transportation.
Addiction advocates in the state have criticized the delivery options. After the OLCC first allowed delivery of hard alcohol in March, Oregon Recovers Executive Director Mike Marshal released a statement saying the pandemic had already created an atmosphere difficult for those recovering from addiction, as social distancing disrupted recovery meetings and isolated people from their support networks.
“Recent efforts by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to increase alcohol sales during the crisis have potentially added fuel to the fire, which will have dire implications for our emergency departments and hospitals at the worst possible time,” he said.
Irwin said he understood the concerns, but pointed out that people had already been able to order other alcoholic beverages, such as beer. He said members of the Oregon Distillers Guild were reporting deliveries made up an average of 1-2% of sales, with higher percentages in large metro areas and lower delivery sales in rural areas.
He said although alcohol sales overall went up during the early months of the pandemic, people have mostly stocked up on “value brands” and distillers have been struggling financially as the restaurants and bars they stock have been closed or had limited operations, and people have avoided tasting rooms.
“Yes, people bought a lot of liquor, but they bought a lot of Absolut and Jack Daniels,” he said. “They didn’t buy a lot of Oregon brands.”