Panic buying was reported in bottle shops on Sunday as nervous customers stocked up.
Liquor retailers such as Dan Murphy’s and Liquorland have reported a spike in the sales of wines, beers and spirits in recent weeks.
As news of impending drastic shutdowns began to spread, there was confusion as to whether liquor stores would be deemed “essential” or be shutting down.
One worker at a bottle shop in Brisbane told The Brisbane Times it was “as busy as Christmas”.
Staff at a small bottle shop in Sydney’s east, agreed, telling Daily Mail Australia: “It’s been crazy. We’ve done about $50,000 for the day.”
Matt Swindells, the Chief Operating Officer at Coles, told The Today Show that its bottle shops hadn’t experienced the same levels of pandemonium as the toilet paper aisle: “We’re yet to see a run on bottle shops. It would be really, really sad to think that the learnings from our supermarket shoppers can’t then translate into the bottle shops, and we all hold our nerve and just shop in normal patterns, so we don’t see the same thing happen within liquor.”
In a press conference late on Sunday night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said bottleshops would be excluded from closures of pubs and dining hotels.
“Off license parts of those premises [pubs and hotels], or bottle shops, that particularly applies in places like Tasmania, and in Queensland I understand, they will be excluded from these arrangements, they work like any other retail premises – they are not a place of people gathering, in an off-licence bottle shop,” he said.
This morning, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews urged Australians not to use on-premise closures as an excuse to hold social gatherings at home.
“You won’t be able to go to the pub, because the pub is shut,” he said. “That doesn’t mean you can have all your mates round to home and get on the beers. That’s not appropriate. It’s not essential, it’s not needed, and all it will do is spread the virus.
“We had a case last week when a group of people, a dozen or so, went to a dinner party. As best we can tell, the dinner party started with one person who had the coronavirus. By the end of the dinner party, almost everybody at the dinner party had the coronavirus.
“This spreads rapidly. If people simply behave as normal, if they don’t take this seriously, if they act selfishly, then people will die. I can’t be any clearer than that.”
Australian breweries have urged the government to allow them to remain operational.
New Zealand moves to total lockdown
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the country is preparing to go into complete self isolation.
The country will move to a higher alert level – a three out of four – for the next 48 hours before the highest level of four is deployed, essentially shutting down the country.
All non-essential businesses are to close, schools will be closed from tomorrow, and domestic travel restrictions will be in place.
This will include takeaway services closing their operations.
Public transport will also begin to transition over the next 48 hours will only be available for those working in essential services, for medical reasons, and to move essential goods – including ferry services between the North and South Island.
The level four restrictions will be in place for at least four weeks.
Supermarkets, pharmacies and essential medical services will stay open.
It’s been announced that the government will have zero tolerance for people ignoring these restrictions, and police will be used to enforce them if required.
Ardern said: “Like the rest of the world, we are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus. But, through decisive action, and through working together, do we have a small window to get ahead of it.
“On Saturday I announced a COVID-19 alert level system and placed New Zealand at Alert Level 2. I also said we should all be prepared to move quickly. Now is the time to put our plans into action.
“We are fortunate to still be some way behind the majority of overseas countries in terms of cases, but the trajectory is clear. Act now, or risk the virus taking hold as it has elsewhere.”