WA introduces COVID-19 alcohol restrictions

March 25, 2020
By Alana House

Western Australia has announced alcohol restrictions to prevent panic buying during COVID-19.

The alcohol restrictions came into force at 10am on Wednesday morning, with the following daily limits: three bottles of wine; one carton of beer, cider or premix spirits; one litre of spirits; and one litre of fortified wine. However, customers can purchase across two of those categories under the new rules.

Bottle shops were contacted this morning by the Director of Liquor Licensing Duncan Ord.

“These conditions will apply to hotel, hotel restricted, tavern, liquor store, producers, club, wholesalers and special facility licenses,” the advice said.

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

“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.”

The alcohol restrictions will be reviewed after two weeks.

AHA says new restrictions are “very disappointing”

AHA (WA) CEO Bradley Woods said the new alcohol restrictions were very disappointing and will make it difficult for retailers, however the AHA “will be doing our best to ensure they are implemented in accordance with the law”.

“So far the hospitality industry has been hit with a massive tourism industry shutdown, domestic shut-down of food and beverage services on-premise and now a restriction on sales, all of which are imposing devastating harm on our industry,” said Woods.

“It is critical that venues can maintain take-away trade and delivery services to minimise job losses and cater to genuine community needs.

“There are over 1000 licensed venues across the state that have the capacity and the legal right to offer take-away and delivery alcohol and we strongly encourage the Government to not damage these businesses anymore and resist calls for other businesses to also offer take-away alcohol.”

“Whilst these restrictions are regrettable, we have given our commitment to support Premier Mark McGowan in his efforts to maintain order and contain the spread of COVID-19, whilst still trying to protect the viability of our hospitality industry.”

“We are trying hard to keep venues open in some capacity so it is critical that no further restrictions are placed on WA businesses, particularly in cases where there are no such restrictions in other Australian jurisdictions.”

Retail Drinks Australia CEO Julie Ryan also expressed her concerns: “We are disappointed with the WA Government’s decision to put in place retail limits without proper consultation with the packaged drinks industry.

“We have no issue with the Government’s attempts to mitigate any harmful effects arising from alcohol abuse during the current crisis, however we believe that the limits as they stand will be cumbersome to execute and will potentially put our teams at risk.

“The limits are complex to calculate, will lead to delays in processing of transactions, and we are genuinely concerned will unnecessarily spark panic buying. All of these outcomes are counterproductive to social distancing.

“Several members of the drinks industry are currently in discussions with the Federal Government who have requested that national restrictions be put into place, using recommendations from the industry on how to best implement these measures.”

Dan Murphy's panic buying

Liquor Stores Association of WA chief executive Peter Peck told members in an email: “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.”

Earlier this week, Commissioner Dawson said he would “exercise any emergency power to keep the community safe”

“We will consider all options depending on whether the community behave and do that in a civil way,” he noted. “They haven’t done it with toilet paper.”

Tips from the Liquor Stores Association of WA

The Liquor Stores Association of WA told its members earlier this week that they need to step up to the plate and make sure they are ticking all the boxes when selling alcohol.

It provided a COVID-19 retailer check list, including:

  1. Is this a reasonable amount of product the customer is purchasing ?
  2. Am I ensuring the number of people in my store allows for a 4 square metre separation?
  3. Am I practising RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol)?
  4. Am I and my staff using hand sanitiser after I handle money?
  5. Is my counter regularly wiped down with antibacterial solution?

“If you do not tick all the boxes then you will risk having your store closed by police under section 114 of the liquor control act,” the association noted.

“Police and the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries inspectors are visiting every store across the state monitoring all sales and ensuring you and your staff are safe.”

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