Home/FIVS Alerts/Focus on Coronavirus: Notable Public Policy Developments Around the World – 17 March 2021

Focus on Coronavirus: Notable Public Policy Developments Around the World – 17 March 2021


We would like to share the following items which describe the impact that the coronavirus pandemic is having on the industry. Please contact the FIVS Secretariat with items that may be of interest.

Government Support

Canada: Alcohol takeaway and delivery sales made permanent in British Colombia – The British Columbia government reportedly has granted permanent permission for restaurants and pubs to be able to sell and deliver sealed, packaged wine, beer, and spirits along with meals – making permanent a pilot project that has been extended three times. Pre-pandemic, restaurants and pubs could sell alcohol beverages only for consumption in their establishments, unless they had a special endorsement on their licence. Earlier in 2021, the government made permanent its pilot project to allow restaurants to buy alcohol at wholesale prices.

United Kingdom: Alcohol duty freeze – The Wine and Spirit Trade Association welcomed the British Chancellor’s decision to freeze alcohol duty payments for the UK wine and spirit industry, which has navigated enormous challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit. The measures taken by the Chancellor translate into savings in duty payments of approximately £100 million for wine and spirit businesses.  The UK spirits sector supports a reported 230,000 jobs, and its wine sector supports approximately 130,000 jobs. The government also extended a VAT cut for the hospitality sector but did not include alcohol beverages.

United States: Three states may allow takeaway sales post-pandemic – Three states are considering legislation to support struggling hospitality businesses. The Oklahoma House reportedly has passed a bill which will now head to the Senate for consideration to allow takeaway cocktails from restaurants until 01 July 2022.  The Maine Legislature reportedly has passed similar legislation which now heads to the Governor’s desk that would extend takeaway cocktails from restaurants and bars with food purchases until September 2022. And legislation moving through Indiana’s General Assembly would make temporary rules permanent that allow for curbside pickup of alcohol beverages from wineries, breweries, distilleries, and restaurants, although not from grocery stores.

Closing Down Again 

Brazil: São Paulo closes hospitality sector for 15 days – On 15 March 2021, the Governor of São Paulo announced the closing of the hospitality sector under a fifteen-day statewide lockdown. Delivery and curbside services will be allowed.

Philippines: Two-week ban on alcohol retail sales in Quezon City – On 14 March 2021, the mayor of Quezon City reportedly announced emergency steps effective until 31 March 2021 due to a spike in new COVID-19 cases. These measures include the suspension of all retail sales of alcohol beverages.

Illicit Alcohol

Cameroon: Increasing deaths from illicit alcohol during pandemic – Authorities in Cameroon have said that the pandemic has led to spikes in excessive drinking and in deaths from the consumption of illicit alcohol. The government reportedly has seized illicit alcohol from at least 20 shops and 350 bars during the past month.

Trends during the Pandemic

Canada: New drinking guidelines as drinking reportedly increased during the pandemic – The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction launched a six-week public consultation ending on 18 April 2021 as part of its initiative to update existing guidelines for the safe consumption of alcohol. The plans are being made as a survey from Statistics Canada reported that approximately 25% of Canadians believed their consumption of alcohol increased during the pandemic due to stress, boredom, and isolation. The link to the survey, which the CCSA says will take approximately ten minutes, can be found here.

Poland: Alcohol promotions fell by 11% during the pandemic – Promotion of alcohol beverages by retailers in Poland reportedly declined by over 11% during the pandemic. Looking at alcohol beverages individually, cider promotions fell by 44%, the largest decrease, followed by wine promotions which fell by over 21%, liqueurs and creams which declined by almost 16%, and spirits by 13%. Only promotions of beer increased by less than 2%.

NOTE: We make no warranty of any kind regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information in these FIVS Alerts; nor do we necessarily support or agree with views expressed or contained therein.