Sunday beer sooner in New York

New Yorkers can get a jump on their Sunday picnic or beach beer supply shopping, thanks to a new law just signed by Gov. George Pataki.

For generations, as a lingering reminder of the so-called Blue Laws based on religious preferences that controlled public commerce on the Christian sabbath, beer could not be sold on Sundays until noon.

Now, sales may commence at 8 a.m., although individual counties retain the power to regulate Sunday sales before noon. It still is illegal to sell beer between 3 and 8 a.m. on Sundays.

The change follows one last year that lifted the ban on Sunday liquor sales in New York. Unlike some other states, however, liquor and wine sales remain restricted to licensed stores rather than being available in grocery and convenience stores alongside beer.

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