Coronavirus crisis: WA set to restrict alcohol takeaway sales in light of COVID-19 pandemic

Peter LawThe West Australian
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West Australians will be given limits on what they can no buy at bottle shops.
Camera IconWest Australians will be given limits on what they can no buy at bottle shops. Credit: Nic Ellis/WA News

Western Australian will today become the first State in the nation to restrict alcohol takeaway sales as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The changes will come into effect at 10am and apply to all bottle shops in WA, Liquor Stores Association of WA chief executive Peter Peck told members in an email.

Importantly, liquor stores will still continue to trade. Under the new restrictions, every outlet is subject to the following quantities for sale per customer per day:

· one carton of beer, cider or pre-mixed spirits; or

· three bottles of wine; or

· one litre of spirits; or

· one litre of fortified wine; or

· a combination of any two of the above (but not a combination of two of the same product).

Failure to comply with these conditions may result in penalties. The conditions apply to bottle shops, hotels, bars and alcohol producers.

The restrictions will be implemented for a minimum of two-weeks, can be altered at any time and would be reviewed in a fortnight, the State Government said.

The temporary restrictions were imposed by the State Government in consultation with WA Police commissioner Chris Dawson.

“These are extraordinary times, and every Western Australian needs to play their part, in the best interests of the State,” Premier Mark McGowan said.

“These restrictions are not intended to stop people from having a responsible drink. They are relatively minor, sensible measures that will help ensure our State is in a strong position to respond to COVID-19.

“Alcohol-related issues take up an enormous amount of resources in our health system. These are resources we simply cannot afford to spare during the COVID-19 situation.

“We expect our hospital system to be under pressure in coming weeks, and we need as many hospital staff as possible on hand to assist.

“I also don’t want to see a situation where Western Australians move towards buying up large amounts of alcohol during times where they may be staying at home for extended periods, to adhere to social distancing rules.

“This only will result in problems throughout our society that we cannot afford right now. These are problems that will stretch our police force and only put more pressure on our hospital system.”

Mr Peck told liquor stores that retailers should ensure appropriate staffing levels and that all relevant notices were in full view upon entry and at the point of sale, notifying customers of the changes.

“The Association also reminds its members to practise safe hygiene practices and where appropriate to display signage urging customers to exit the store if they display any cold and/or flu symptoms,” he wrote in an email to members.

“These are unprecedented times and the LSAWA is relentless in its efforts to ensure independent retailers are front and centre in the minds of government amid the changing global landscape.”

The announcement comes after Mr Dawson earlier this week warned restrictions would be imposed if there was panic buying at bottle shops.

Existing takeaway restrictions in particular communities will remain in place.

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