Home/FIVS Alerts/Focus on Coronavirus: Notable Policy Developments Around the World – 15 May 2020

Focus on Coronavirus: Notable Policy Developments Around the World – 15 May 2020


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

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

Changes Ahead for the Industry?

  • Creative packaging for American craft beer: As on-premises sales of draft beer ended due to the pandemic, some craft brewers are reportedly finding creative ways to package their beer in 16-ounce cans, bags-in-boxes, small casks with dispensing devices, and one-gallon plastic jugs, as well as donating beer to become hand sanitizer or distilling discarded draft beer to create whiskey.
  • Draft law permitting online sales in Latvia: The majority of the Saeima Commission for National Economy, Agrarian, Environmental and Regional Policy reportedly supports draft legislation that would allow the sale of alcohol beverages in Latvia via the internet, although concerns have been raised, including the risk of delivering alcohol beverages by parcel post to minors.
  • The Coronavirus Pandemic will likely spur the development of e-commerce sales: E-commerce is apparently growing to address restrictions placed on on-premise and brick-and-mortar sales. The current situation appears to have spurred the development of e-commerce growth for alcohol beverages.

Industry Seeking Help

  • French brewers seeking aid: Brasseurs de France reportedly announced that ten million litres of beer will be destroyed because they were not consumed in time due to the closure of cafes and restaurants, as well as the cancellation of festivals and tourism, during the coronavirus lockdown. Brewers are requesting aid for the destruction of beer stocks.
  • Indian hotels and restaurants seeking permission to sell wine & beer: After liquor shops in India were allowed to reopen during the pandemic, a hotel and restaurant association has reportedly sought permission from state governments including Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh to sell wine and beers stocks, which are expiring, promising to manage social distancing by selling only liquor on their premises.
  • Reopening pubs in Ireland: Two associations have reportedly urged the government to allow pubs to open at the same time that cafes and restaurants will begin reopening in Ireland at the end of June, six weeks earlier than the government has proposed for lifting the lockdown on pubs, bars, and nightclubs.
  • New Zealand brewers seeking refunds: The New Zealand Brewers Association has reportedly urged the government to refund excise payments on 15,000 kegs of beer that have gone stale during the coronavirus lockdown.
  • South African brewers urging reversal of alcohol ban: South African Breweries has reportedly urged the South African government to reverse its ban on the distribution and sale of alcohol, noting unintended consequences such as growing the illicit alcohol trade and causing spikes in liquor store robberies, and has forwarded a plan to President Ramaphosa for reopening the sale of alcohol under strict regulations, including restricted hours, restrictions on volumes sold per consumer, and allowing online orders and delivery of beer with quantity controls in place.
    • South African brewers seeking support: South African Breweries (SAB) reportedly argued that it would be forced to destroy more than 130 million litres of beer, because the transportation of alcohol, apart from alcohol for export, was illegal under South Africa’s lockdown regulations. In response, the government reportedly gave SAB some relief by enabling it to transport some of its beer to its depots.

Changing Government Policies during the Pandemic

  • Lifting the ban on alcohol sales in Barbados: The government of Barbados is lifting its ban on the sale of alcohol as part of phase two of its national reopening strategy.
  • Support for spirits sales in Canada: Reportedly, the Ontario government has temporarily lowered the minimum prices until 1 January 2021 for spirits sold with food orders for take-out and delivery from bars and restaurants to help support the industry during the pandemic.
  • Fee hikes on alcohol in India: As India lifted a 40-day lockdown on liquor stores, the central government reportedly has imposed a 70-percent special coronavirus fee across all categories of alcohol, and states such as Andhra Pradesh have ordered hikes in maximum retail prices, to provide relief for government finances. Liquor stores in malls and markets, as well as pubs and hotels, remain closed due to the coronavirus.
  • Bars in Jamaica opening up: The Jamaican government is reportedly in the process of loosening restrictions on bars which have been locked down for the past two months.
  • Support for beer production in Mexico: The president of the Senate Agriculture Commission reportedly supports allowing the reactivation of beer production in Mexico to help generate the return of jobs during the pandemic.
  • Banning sale of all alcohol in Namibia: During the first three weeks of Namibia’s lockdown period, the government consented to the sale of alcohol drinks with an alcohol content of less than three percent, but new government regulations now reportedly ban the sale of any liquor with alcohol in it, except for alcohol intended to be used for medicinal purposes.
  • Gradual lifting of prohibitions in Panama: The Ministry of Health reportedly announced that the distribution, sale, and consumption of alcohol beverages in Panama prohibited by executive decree on 24 March 2020 would be lifted gradually, beginning on 8 May 2020.
  • Lifting the ban on alcohol sales in Thailand: The national government of Thailand has reportedly lifted its ban on the sale of alcohol drinks, although drinks may not be sold for on premise consumption.

Social Aspects

  • Responsible consumption: spiritsEUROPE has launched a new campaign to promote consumption of alcohol within responsible drinking guidelines during the global lockdown.
  • Domestic abuse: This article considers whether previous bans on alcohol sales, as well as the current bans in place to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus, have had an impact on domestic abuse.

Illegal Sales

  • 25 more deaths from illicit alcohol in Mexico: Authorities from the Mexican state of Jalisco have arrested an individual on charges of qualified homicide and qualified injuries related to the deaths of 25 people and the hospitalisation of 19 others who consumed drinks adulterated with methanol.
  • 11 more deaths from illicit alcohol in Nepal: Nepalese police reportedly confirmed that over the course of five days in May, eleven people in two adjoining settlements of the Mahottari district died after consuming illegally brewed alcohol.
  • 10 more deaths from illicit alcohol in Romania: Romanian police have reportedly brought charges against seven individuals after ten people in Bucharest and surrounding areas died from consuming illicit medical alcohol containing methanol.