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Alcohol rationing to deter binge-buying

Retail Drinks Australia introduced limits on alcohol purchases to deter binge buying - and binge drinking. Photo: Alexas Fotos/Pixabay

By ALEC SMART

In a bid to curb coronavirus panic-buying, such as we’ve seen with toilet paper, pasta, hand sanitiser and headache tablets, Retail Drinks Australia has introduced limits on alcohol purchases across Australia.

The new restrictions are guidelines and not government-mandated.

Retail Drinks, a national industry body that represents the interests of packaged retail liquor stores, introduced the industry-wide initiative on 1 April. Participating liquor stores are overseeing the recommended limits on beer wine and spirit purchases.

Despite the launch coinciding with April Fool’s Day – the traditional day for pranks and mischief-making – the regulations are a serious attempt to encourage customers to continue purchasing alcohol as they would normally – without hoarding.

In Britain a fake statement was widely circulated announcing a complete ban on alcohol due to claims it weakened the body’s resistance to the virus.

Purported to be a statement released on behalf of the National Health Service and approved by the British Govt, the false document declared, “under an emergency health legislation.. it is now illegal to purchase, sell and consume alcohol. Anyone caught breaching the new law will be severely sanctioned to protect everyone against the battle of Covid-19.”

However, Britain’s Covid-19 restrictions on alcohol retail are similar to Australia with venues closed but delivery and take-away services permitted.

Retailers that joined the scheme include Aldi supermarkets, Coles Liquor (Liquorland, Vintage Cellars, First Choice, First Choice Liquor Market, all online retailers), Endeavour Drinks (Dan Murphy’s, BWS, all online retailers), Independent Brands Australia (Big Bargain, The Bottle-O, Cellarbrations, Duncans, IGA Liquor, Porters, Thirsty Camel), Liquor Legends, Liquor Stax (250 stores + approximately 430 members including Hotels and Liquor Retail Stores) and Urban Cellars.

Retail Drinks stated on their LinkedIn page: “Our industry is taking this step to show leadership in these unprecedented times. Retail Drinks remains aligned to working collaboratively with government to set standards of responsibility. This is consistent with other industry leading initiatives in responsibility such as the Online Alcohol Sale and Delivery Code of Conduct…”

The buying limits don’t apply in Western Australia, which has its own state government-applied limits.

Retail Drinks CEO Julie Ryan said “We know that consumers like to feel certainty of supply during times of crisis… Our suppliers in breweries, wineries, distilleries and the wholesale and distribution of drinks continue to be fully operational…

“We want to now send a clear message bottle shops remain an essential service and there are no issues of supply.”

Signage explaining the new recommended limits will be displayed within participating stores and their respective websites.

“Put simply, each category of drinks, whether it be beer, wine, cider, RTDs or spirits, will have a limit for that category,” Ryan said. “Consumers can purchase up to the total limit in any two product categories.”

Limits per transaction
2 cases of beer
2 cases of cider
2 cases of pre-mixed spirits
12 bottles of wine
2 casks of cask wine (not to exceed 10 litres in total)
2 bottles of spirits (not to exceed 2 litres in total)

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