Home/FIVS Alerts/Focus on Coronavirus: Notable Policy Developments Around the World – 06 May 2020

Focus on Coronavirus: Notable Policy Developments Around the World – 06 May 2020


We would like to share the following items, which describe the impact that the coronavirus pandemic is having on the industry.

Make sure to check out our page on the FIVS website that offers news of developments showing how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our industry around the world! We are updating this webpage as new information becomes available.

Possible Future Trends

  • New Technologies: This article examines new enterprise resource planning (ERP) technologies that enable alcohol beverage companies to manage their supply chains more easily.
  • United States – Survival of On-premise?: As the U.S. restaurant industry has reportedly shed more than 8 million employees and may lose $240 billion by the end of 2020 and as wine distributors begin to furlough employees, this article considers whether the on-premise alcohol market will be able to survive the coronavirus pandemic.
  • United States – Control States?: This piece argues against the continuation of control states – such as Pennsylvania, which only allows state-run stores to sell spirits and does not allow out-of-state suppliers or retailers to ship product into the state – post-pandemic.

Industry – Seeking Help

  • Ireland: Representing most pubs in Dublin and its suburbs, the Licensed Vintners Association reportedly opposes the Irish government’s plan to allow restaurants and cafés to reopen weeks or even months before pubs, arguing that most pubs have full restaurant licences and serve more food in Ireland than full-service restaurants and opposing any restrictions or caps on pubs serving alcohol drinks upon reopening.
  • Peru: National breweries in Peru have reportedly issued a joint statement, expressing their urgent need to resume production during the lockdown and the Union of Craft Brewers of Peru said that more than 500,000 liters of craft beer is about to be lost due to the stoppage of sales and production in the field.
  • United Kingdom: The UK government has reportedly rejected a request from all sectors of the alcohol industry for a blanket deferral of excise duty payments due in March and April (along similar lines to the VAT deferral measures announced previously by the U.K. government). Instead individual businesses can agree to extended payment terms under the U.K. government’s Time to Pay Scheme announced on 11 March.

Government Support

  • Czech Republic: The Czech Senate has approved legislation allowing breweries to claim refunds for over one hundred million crowns paid in excise duty on beer that could not be sold because pubs and restaurants are under lockdown at least until the end of May.
  • European Union: The European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee has received a package of measures that includes support for the wine sector during the pandemic that will allow beneficiaries to receive aid for the storage and distillation of wine.
  • Japan: Due to Japan’s shortage of alcohol-based sanitizers, its government reportedly plans to exempt a tax on liquor with ethanol percentages between 70 and 83 percent not containing methanol that can be used for disinfection at medical institutions and other places, provided their labels state that the products are not intended for consumption and are a substitute for ethanol in hand sanitizers.

Reopenings during the Pandemic

  • Australia: Noting Australia’s Northern Territory has had no new COVID-19 cases during the past three weeks, the government plans to lift the lockdown in three stages, including a second stage on 15 May 2020 that will allow the consumption of alcohol with food and a third stage on 5 June 2020 when all restrictions on venues will be lifted.
    • Australia: Nationwide voluntary restrictions in Australia which limited customers to two cases of beer or cider and 12 bottles of wine in one transaction were reportedly lifted on 29 April 2020, but new laws in the Northern Territory remain in effect.
  • France: The prefect of Morbihan announced that the sale of strong liquors would be allowed again on 30 April 2020, lifting a ban that had been instituted only two weeks earlier.
  • India: The Narendra Modi government reportedly may revisit its guidelines prohibiting the sale of alcohol nationwide after numerous states including Punjab have raised the issue, citing such concerns as revenue losses from excise duty on alcohol, the public health risks associated with illicit distilling and brewing, and whether the federal government has the constitutional authority to direct states to prohibit the sale of alcohol.
  • Ireland: Irish pubs might well reopen six weeks earlier than scheduled if plans reportedly being advanced by two of the industry’s largest independent bodies are approved.
  • Norway: The City Council of Oslo has reportedly decided to lift the coronavirus alcohol ban on 5 May 2020.
  • Portugal: The Portuguese government recently released a four phase transition plan for a “new normal,” taking into account a gradual de-escalation, with each phase lasting a minimum of two weeks.  Every two weeks, the Ministry of Health will determine whether it is possible to move on to the next phase.
  • South Africa: The South African government reportedly announced that wine exports could resume on 1 May 2020, including manufacturing of wine, the transportation of wine to ports and airports for export and via roads to neighbouring countries, and other related services such as inspections and certifications.
  • Spain: Spain reportedly announced a four-phase plan to lift its lockdown, including a second stage beginning on 11 May 2020 when bars may reopen their terraces to one-third of their capacity, which gives local authorities responsibility for monitoring the conditions in their regions but final approval to the national Health Ministry.
  • Thailand: Thailand reportedly said the sales of alcohol drinks will be permitted again on 3 May 2020, ending the prohibition intended to prevent gatherings during the pandemic.

Health and Illicit Liquor – Deaths attributed to contaminated alcohol and COVID-19 misinformation continued to rise, as seen in the countries below:

  • Brazil has reportedly allowed a brewery to reopen to produce gel alcohol after nine people died after ingesting its contaminated beer.
  • The Dominican Republic reported that another 12 people died over the weekend of 25-26 April 2020, bringing total deaths during April 2020 from methanol poisoning to 121.
  • Mexico reported 16 deaths in Jalisco from drinking illicit liquor over the weekend of 25-26 April 2020.
  • Namibian police reported an increase in beer and whisky smuggling from neighbouring Angola and Zambia.
  • Pakistan reported that at least 17 people died during five days in late April from alcohol poisoning in an eastern Punjab province.
  • Russia reported 12 deaths in two regions of the country from illicit alcohol.