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Baker Signs Mosquito Control, Cocktails To-Go Bills

Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday afternoon signed a pair of bills that will update the state's approach to mosquito control and allow restaurants to sell sealed containers of mixed drinks with their takeout and delivery food orders.

Lawmakers sent Baker those two bills on Thursday, along with a $1 billion supplemental budget that focuses on spending related to the state's COVID-19 response. That spending bill (H 4808) remains on Baker's desk, and he has until Sunday to act on it.

The mosquito legislation (S 2757) was based on a bill Baker field in April and gives the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board new powers to fight mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile Virus and Eastern equine encephalitis when the Department of Public Health determines there is an elevated risk. It also creates a task force to recommend reforms aimed at creating a "twenty-first century" approach to mosquito control. Public health officials expect an active EEE season this year, after six deaths from the virus in 2019.

The new to-go cocktails law (S 2812) is aimed at helping restaurants generate additional revenue while their operations are restricted amid the COVID-19 crisis. It follows an April law that allowed restaurants to sell beer and wine alongside takeout and delivery, and restaurants will now be able to sell limited quantities of beer, wine and mixed drinks for off-premises consumption through February 2021 or until the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted, whichever comes later.

According to the Distilled Spirits Council, Massachusetts is joining 30 other states and Washington, D.C. in allowing to-go cocktails. The cocktails must be sold in sealed containers, and customers will be limited to 64 ounces of mixed drinks per transaction.

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