“A shot and a beer” could get a whole new meaning in Illinois bars.
Taverns across the state would be able to reward patrons who can prove they got a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine with a free beer — or other alcoholic beverage — under a bill introduced by a suburban state legislator.
But don’t look for “COVID-19 Happy Hours.”
State Rep. Mike Zalewski’s bill would limit the promotions to one free alcoholic beverage with proof of inoculation to “incentivize vaccinations at this point.”
“It feels like we’ve reached this point where we’ve reached those who are vaccine hesitant — this is just one effort to try to do that,” Zalewski said. “This is just one effort to try to do that. It feels like it may be effective, based on what we’ve seen from other states.”
The Riverside Democrat said the bill is “light hearted” but he does think it could have a positive impact.
The bill “provides that a retail licensee may provide a single drink of alcoholic liquor at no charge to a customer as part of a publicly advertised promotion to encourage participation in any COVID-19 vaccination program if the customer provides proof of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.”
Social media gave Zalewski the idea. New Jersey was cited as a good example, though there are other states that have enacted a “shot and a beer” policy, Zalewski said.
The bar or tavern patrons go to will likely be responsible for enforcing how they determine vaccination status, but Zalewski said the cards state residents received showing they’d been given doses of the vaccine might be enough to qualify for a free drink.
The state legislator said he hasn’t heard from opponents yet on the legislation but said he’s open to discussion.
He’s now working on finding the right bill, or “vehicle,” to add it to, Zalewski said. He’s hopeful the General Assembly will pass the bill this session and said it would “be nice to have it for the summer.”