BOSTON (WWLP) – For months now the legislature has been trying to extend a popular pandemic era policy, and thanks to the swipe of his pen, Governor Baker will allow Massachusetts restaurants to serve cocktails to-go for another year.

When the pandemic hit, state lawmakers had to come up with ways to help restaurants across the state. They decided to permit restaurants on a temporary basis to serve cocktails to-go in sealed containers, because for most establishments the sale of alcohol was their biggest money maker.

Small business owners called on the legislature to extend that policy, and for months the bill was sent back and forth between the House and Senate. On Thursday, the Legislature passed H 4650, a spending package that includes a one-year extension for cocktails to-go from restaurants, bars and distilleries in the state. It was scheduled to end originally on May 1, 2022.

Governor Baker took action on the matter this weekend by signing the bill and extending cocktails to go through April 1, 2023.

There are strict rules that restaurants have to follow when serving cocktails to-go. Drinks must be served in sealed, tamper proof containers and there is a 64 ounce limit per person. Cocktails to-go are intended drinking at home. Open container laws in Massachusetts haven’t changed since the 80’s, so it is still illegal to drink alcohol while driving.

Eighteen states have already made this change permanent and advocates for the bill say there hasn’t been a change in public safety.