COVID vaccine

New Illinois Bill Would Let Bars Give a Free Drink to Customers Who've Gotten the COVID Vaccine

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A new bill in the Illinois House would let bars and restaurants give out a free alcoholic drink to customers who have gotten vaccinated against COVID-19.

State Rep. Mike Zalewski, a Democrat from suburban Riverside, introduced House Bill 4078 on Tuesday.

The "Shot and a Beer" bill would allow establishments with liquor licenses to give customers a free drink if they show proof that they've gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, as part of a promotional campaign incentivizing getting vaccinated.

The measure, if passed and signed into law, would only be valid for six months after its effective date. The bill was introduced Tuesday and sent to the House Rules Committee, awaiting further action.

The bill was introduced as authorities say demand for vaccinations has fallen in Illinois and nationwide, prompting health officials to expand outreach and programs to reach those who have not yet gotten their shots or may be hesitant to do so.

Illinois is "going to ramp down" the number of COVID vaccine doses it orders from the federal government each week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday, announcing a new program to deploy vaccination teams to workplaces and commercial buildings.

"Illinois, like the nation as a whole, has reached a point where, by and large, all the people who were immediately eager to get vaccinated, have already been vaccinated," Pritzker said.

"That means instead of facing a shortage, requiring us to conserve every drop of vaccine and demanding patience from everyone who wants to get vaccinated, we now have vaccine available to anyone who wants a shot, whenever they want one. That's why we can now broaden the number and type of locations where people can get vaccinated," he continued.

Illinois has received a total of 12,584,525 doses of the three COVID vaccines available in the U.S. and has administered a 10,110,969 shots as of Wednesday. More than 4.6 million people - roughly 36% of the state's population - are fully vaccinated.

The new bill to incentivize the vaccine with a drink promotion wouldn't be the first time Illinois lawmakers have contemplated changes to the state's liquor laws because of the pandemic.

Last year, the statehouse passed and Pritzker signed into law a measure allowing restaurants and bars to sell mixed drinks and cocktails in to-go containers as establishments shuttered indoor dining to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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