What the stay-at-home order means for liquor and tobacco sales in Springfield

Coronavirus

SPRINGFIELD, Mo- New amendments were added to both the Greene County and the City of Springfield’s stay-at-home orders. Since those changes, a lot of concern has been raised about alcohol and tobacco sales.

Mary Lilly Smith, Planning and Development Director for Springfield, spoke out during a Tuesday council meeting about tobacco sales since the city has gotten several concerns about this.

“We have had some questions to our call centers about whether tobacco sales or tobacco shops were essential businesses under the stay-at-home order, and it really depends upon the situation,” says Smith.

She says the stay-at-home order mentions that all grocery store and convenience store products are essential, but does not call out tobacco as essential.

“You can purchase tobacco products in a convenience store or, in a grocery store, and then when we get to shops that are specifically tobacco shops, we need to look at what their product lines are,” says Smith.

If a substation element of a tobacco stores’ operation includes: groceries, alcohol, personal care items, or cleaning products, then Smith says that the store may be able to switch to an essential business.

“It can’t just be a couple of packets of ramen and a cooler of Coke products, it has to be somewhere: a quarter, a third, a half of their sales floor area,” she says.

Smith says the city has gotten several calls about vape stores; she says that they are nonessential and have been from the start of the stay-at-home order.

Stay at home order; what counts as an essential business

“Liquor stores are not specifically called out in the order, the order talks about food and beverage, and so they are obviously a beverage. Council made a very intentional decision not to shut down liquor sales, the same decision that they made not to shut down tobacco sales,” says Smith.

So if you need tobacco products here is where you can find them:

  • Grocery stores
  • Convenience stores
  • Tobacco stores that carry essential items
  • Liquor stores that carry tobacco

If you own a business that you think should be essential, you can fill out a form on the City of Springfield’s website.

Springfield Public Informations Director Cora Scott says that the discussion on what businesses are and are not essential can be talked about forever. However, the focus during this COVID-19 pandemic needs to still be on flattening the curve.

“If people will just stay the course, do what they’re supposed to, only go out for essential items, consolidate their trips, we will continue to hold this curve down,” says Cora.

Smith adds to that point that if we continue to flatline the curve, then businesses can open up again sooner.

“It’s in everybody’s best interest to stay home right now to experience a little bit of short term pain so we can get out of here,” says Smith.

Discount Smokes and Beer has stayed open, and business has thrived according to Owner Sean Levy. They’re the only business still open in the Kimbrough Corners market strip. They are one of the closest liquor and smoke shops to Missouri State University’s campus.

Levy says when both the city and state orders went into effect weeks apart, those weekends saw big boosts.

“Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, everyone was loading up on their tobacco products, liquor, beer. So, we did have a large rush at first, but once we found out we’ll be essential we tried telling them, ‘Hey, we’ll be around. You don’t have to load up,'” Levy explains.

But, he says they’re still even busier than normal, even with a big part of their customer base being out of town.

“It’s up a little bit more than I actually expected, especially with the college being shutdown. I mean, yes there are online classes, but most of the students went back home. This is usually our busier time of the year, which is why I’m surprised we’re seeing such an uptick even with the kids being gone.”

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