This ‘hangover’ is political.
If and when the pandemic recedes to a point where restrictions are lifted, what happens to all that emergency legislation left in its wake?
These rules fall into three main categories:
Liquor To Go: bars and restaurants really want to hold on to these, which they’d been trying to pass for decades. The pandemic made it happen. This ranges from the ability to sell takeout beverages to having a ‘to go booze’ kiosk on the front sidewalk (a big hit on boardwalks and promenades where young adults and tourists congregate). It might not be welcomed by local hospitals and emergency rooms, by law enforcement, or by city councils. “Oh great”, remarked one local official. “More people wandering around the streets or driving home with an open container in one hand.” Liquor stores oppose it, naturally, on the grounds that it’s competition that will cut directly into their profits. I’m not sure what the pro side would counter with, other than the demand is there and that means money to be made.
Somebody will probably insist it’s in the Constitution.
Home delivery restrictions – lifted during lockdown. It’s an issue mainly with respect to booze. I’m not sure about cannabis yet. Heroin, coke, and meth will still be illegal, so I imagine home delivery is already common for users who don’t want to venture out into the street. Or for someone to stay drunk without having to risk a DWI.
I haven’t forgotten the story about the guy who was arrested for piloting his riding lawnmower on the side of the Interstate. On his way to the liquor store, naturally.
Telehealth – the big success of the pandemic response. Group attendance went up, and access could be extended to remote locations. Far from perfected, however. One question was, are people really not using substances, or just not using them on camera? How much value were the sessions? Then there’s the OD issue again. OD rates are way up in many areas, due to fentanyl and an influx of coke & meth. Who’s monitoring these folks?
A big issue for providers: During the pandemic, telehealth treatment is reimbursed on equal levels to live services. Will that disappear? If so, it could affect income substantially.
Anyway, this has turned into a foot race in states where legislative sessions might end before a resolution is available. Depending on how things go, I’d expect there to be consequences.
I like this quote from the insurance exec: “I would tell legislators to be cautious… Once things are in statute they are difficult to unwind.”
Indeed they are.