Why Public Drinking May Be—Moderately—Encouraged in San Clemente

January 19, 2021 Updated: January 20, 2021

Enjoying a glass of wine with a meal is typically a luxury restricted to restaurants and private homes, but given the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, San Clemente is making it easier to indulge elsewhere.

Its city council unanimously decided during a Jan. 19 meeting to extend permission to its residents to consume alcohol in public. The emergency order is meant to enhance outdoor dining, support small businesses, and boost mental health.

San Clemente’s interim city manager Erik Sund initially enacted the emergency order last Dec. 18, allowing adults to drink alcohol with the consumption of a meal in certain public locations.

The order was set to expire Jan. 19, unless council moved to continue it during its scheduled meeting.

Now that it’s been extended, it will likely remain in place for the duration of Southern California’s regional stay-at-home order.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department hasn’t reported any issues as a result of the order, Sund said, adding that it wouldn’t give residents a free pass for public intoxication or disorderly conduct.

There are certain restrictions on where alcohol can be consumed in public, including: within 100 feet of a church or school, inside vehicles, parking lots, and more. Residents can imbibe Monday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The city said it could benefit from the order by helping restaurants boost takeout sales, which would result in an increase in revenue from sales taxes.