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Illinois bill would allow bars, restaurants to give a free drink to vaccinated customers

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A new Illinois bill would allow bars and restaurants to give customers who have been vaccinated a free drink as businesses across the country work to boost inoculation efforts.

The legislation, known as HB 4078, would allow “a retail licensee” to provide one free alcoholic drink to a customer “to encourage participation in any COVID-19 vaccination program.”

The bill, filed Tuesday by Democratic state Rep. Michael Zalewski, would allow customers to get a free drink after providing proof that they received a vaccine.

The proposed giveaway would last six months after being enacted. It applies to bars, restaurants and establishments with liquor control commission certification, Zalewski confirmed to The Hill.

The legislator said he initially got the idea from social media and was inspired by other states that were offering giveaways to residents who received COVID-19 vaccinations.

“New Jersey had tried it, and other states are working through it. It seems like it’s gaining a little momentum nationally, so that’s what motivated me to do it,” Zalewski said.

He said the giveaway could help incentivize young people who are hesitant to get their shot.

“We hope this will convince people it’s a good idea,” Zalewski added.

Businesses large and small are getting more involved in fighting off the coronavirus pandemic by offering incentives for people to get vaccinated. Offers have included the NFL giving vaccinated consumers 25 percent off purchases made on its website later this year, Target offering $5 coupons to customers who get vaccinated in stores and more. 

Other businesses and city and state governments have partnered to offer beer and other beverages to people as a vaccine incentive.

Washington, D.C., officials offered free beer at a vaccination pop-up site last week. The New Jersey Department of Health announced earlier this month that it will buy residents a pint if they show proof that they have been vaccinated, while Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) administration is buying beers for vaccinated residents at participating restaurants.

Updated at 4:13 p.m.

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