In urban environments, easing restrictions on sidewalk tables and allowing seating to spill into closed streets and parking spaces has been suggested as a way of safely increasing bar and restaurant capacity. In suburban areas, allowing businesses to convert their legally mandated parking lots into outdoor dining spaces could have a similar effect.

Allowing to-go drinks and open containers would take these ideas a step further, offering struggling businesses one more avenue for survival. The experience of coffee shops suggests that this is possible, at least in principle.

My neighborhood shop tentatively opened on weekends to offer coffee and bags of beans to go. Guests approach one at a time and patiently wait outside, lined up six feet apart. The owners tell me that customers quickly adapted to the new model. The shop is now open for take-away coffees five days a week, a relative success in the COVID-19 economy.