Connecticut adopted blue laws to restrict work and play on Sundays in the 1600s. The word blue was an 18th-century synonym for moral rigidity, and four centuries later, Connecticut clings to that rigidity. It is one of just three states in the nation (the other two are Georgia and Indiana) that bans the sale of beer, wine and liquor on Sundays. (The only exceptions in Connecticut are vineyards, which can sell wine.)
The state forces liquor stores, called package stores, to close between 9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Monday. Grocery stores that sell beer must make the beverages inaccessible during those hours; some particularly vigilant stores chain and padlock their coolers every Saturday night to try to keep errant bottles from fleeing their captivity.
The Sunday ban on alcohol sales is more a triumph of special interests than the lingering spirit of the Puritans. For decades, package store owners who clearly enjoy having their day of rest have fought attempts to overturn the restrictions. But with Connecticut now facing a multimillion-dollar budget gap, more legislators are arguing that the state can’t afford to do without the tax revenue that Sunday sales would bring in — between $2.5 million and $5 million a year, according to the state’s Office of Fiscal Analysis.
Not everyone is persuaded. “We will not be able to drink our way out of this problem,” said State Senator Thomas Colapietro, a Democrat whose district includes Bristol. Lobbyists for package stores argue that changing the law would lead to public drunkenness and drive smaller stores, forced to employ Sunday workers, out of business.
Connecticut is not the only state with restrictions that challenge modern life. Neighboring Massachusetts deems Thanksgiving and Christmas to be grocery-free days, forcing most food stores — except for convenience stores that employ three or fewer people — to shut their doors. Burning the mince pie clearly is not an option in the Bay State, just as planning far ahead for Super Bowl Sunday is an absolute necessity in Connecticut. While it appears unlikely that Connecticut residents will chant “We want beer!” as thirsty protestors did towards the end of Prohibition, it shouldn’t be such a radical act to buy a six-pack on a Sunday.