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Permit approvals hold up changes to Lambert alcohol rules

File photo | St. Louis Public Radio
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

If you've been waiting to walk around the gate areas of St. Louis Lambert International Airport with a beer or cocktail, you need to continue to exercise patience. The process to revise alcohol permits allowing new state regulations to go into effect is not yet complete.

Airport officials say all of the restaurants and bars at Lambert are operated by three companies. Each needs a permit adjustment before travelers can walk with a beer or other alcoholic drink purchased from an airport business. The beverages will be in specially marked cups.

The approval process rests with St. Louis County because the airport sits in the county, even though it's owned by the city.

There is a worry that the pending change will lead to people who have too much to drink to board flights, but that is being downplayed by airport director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge.

"I don't  believe there is any concern with people using this as a way to get drunk before they get on airplanes," she said.

"It's really more of a convenience thing."

The airport receives feedback from many customers that they would like to have a beer or other drink before getting on a flight, but are usually pressed for time. They would be able to buy a beverage and drink it at the gate, which would help in situations where a restaurant might be full and there is too long of a wait before they have to get on a plane.

"So the chance of someone coming back for a second round is very, very slim," said Hamm-Niebruegge.

The state law changes were approved this year by the Missouri legislature and signed by Gov. Eric Greitens.

Credit (via Flickr/Mooganic)
The changes to alcohol rules approved by the state will free up businesses at the airport to allow so-called roaming beer and alcohol sales.

But everything is on hold, pending the permit approvals, and airport officials are not sure when that might happen.

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Wayne is the morning newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.

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