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Coronavirus: WA Premier introduces restrictions on takeaway alcohol

The Advertiser 2020-03-25 10:10:00

Western Australia has taken the brutal step of limiting alcohol purchases as the state grapples to contain the COVID-19 outbreak and its devastating flow-on effects.

The new liquor restrictions came into effect from 10am this morning, and were devised by the state government in consultation with the WA Police Commissioner.

Under the new rules, each customer can only purchase one carton of beer, cider or pre-mixed spirits, three bottles of wine, one litre of spirits, one litre of fortified wine or a combination of any two (but not a combination of two of the same product) per day.

Premier Mark McGowan spoke about the new rules in a series of tweets today, explaining they were designed to free up the healthcare system from dealing with alcohol-related issues.

“These are extraordinary times, and every Western Australian needs to play their part,” Mr McGowan wrote.

Under the changes (per customer, each day):

• 1 carton of beer, cider or pre-mixed spirits; or
• 3 bottles of wine; or
• 1 litre of spirits; or
• 1 litre of fortified wine; or
• A combination of any two of the above, but not a combination of two of the same product).

— Mark McGowan (@MarkMcGowanMP) March 25, 2020

“They are temporary and 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 this time.”

Mr McGowan thanked residents for their “understanding and co-operation during this time”.

But unsurprisingly, the news has not been taken well by many social media users.

“That is crazy to restrict alcohol at this time. And yeah, police have too much say over drug policy period,” one Twitter user wrote, while another joked that it was “time to buy a still”.

“Pretty sure this will just make people bottle shop-hop which will spread it around further,” another said.

The WA ban comes just days after shoppers resorted to panic-buying booze in some bottle shops over the weekend in fear of bottle shops being deemed “non-essential services” and temporarily shut down.

On Sunday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a “comprehensive shutdown” of non-essential services, which was supposed to take place within 48 hours.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews followed suit, as did ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, with the three states originally planning to force restaurants, pubs, bars and retailers to close their doors while supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, convenience stores, freight and logistics and home delivery would have been able to continue operating.

Those announcements prompted a flurry of activity in bottle shops across the country, with shoppers in Sydney stores seen loading their trolleys with booze and social media users sharing snaps of the frenzy inside stores as customers frantically attempted to stock up.

The situation has also sparked lighthearted panic on social media, with many claiming their local BWS, Dan Murphys or First Choice Liquor was “essential” for them.

However, after Sunday night’s cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Scott Morrison ultimately announced that while new restrictions on casinos, cinemas, pubs, clubs, restaurants, gyms, churches and other services would be rolled out, retailers – including bottle shops – were exempt.

Originally published as Aussie state’s brutal booze act