Home/FIVS Alerts/Focus on Coronavirus: Notable Public Policy Developments Around the World – 18 November 2020

Focus on Coronavirus: Notable Public Policy Developments Around the World – 18 November 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 for more news of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our industry around the world. We are updating the webpage as new information becomes available.

Social Sustainability

Managing increasing alcohol consumption – An article published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine by researchers from the Center of Excellence in Alcohol, Drugs, and Addiction at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, discusses ways to manage and reduce alcohol beverage consumption during the pandemic. The authors write that growing consumption may have a more profound effect on use because the pandemic has lasted longer and is more widespread than previous disasters. The article suggests establishing safe drinking limits, as well as public health messaging about managing anxiety without alcohol and telehealth services for people at risk of relapse.

Canadian NGO urges health warning labels – Due to an increase in consumption of alcohol beverages during the pandemic, Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada (MADD) has reportedly called on the Canadian Health Minister to include health warning labels on alcohol beverage products. This non-governmental organisation wants Health Canada to include labelling information about serving size, standard drink size, and the safety risks associated with impaired driving. MADD Canada believes that warning labels are also required due to recent changes in legislation, reflecting different approaches to regulating alcohol sales throughout Canada’s provinces during the pandemic.

400,000 drinking more in the UK’s North-East – A survey by Balance, the North-East alcohol office, reportedly found that 18.6 percent (nearly 400,000 people) have been drinking more alcohol beverages during the pandemic. Of those individuals, 79 percent are thought to be at-risk drinkers. “Alcohol – Not the Answer” – a campaign run by Balance and funded by public health teams across the North East – encourages people to have more drink free days and to drink no more than 14 units each week.

U.S. weighing lockdowns amid public backlash – U.S. governors and mayors are facing difficult decisions about whether to order shutdowns as COVID-19 cases skyrocket, facing deeply polarized constituents and dire economic situations. While governors in Illinois, Maryland, and Washington are reportedly now weighing lockdowns, leaders in more conservative states hesitate even to take less-intrusive measures such as requiring mask. As cases rise, cities like New York have tightened restrictions, forcing bars and restaurants to close by 10 p.m. Further, a former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others have called for targeted closures, choosing to close bars so that schools can remain open.

Economic Sustainability

Extending “automatic” permission for takeaway alcohol in the UK – The UK Communities Secretary is reportedly drafting plans to extend automatic entitlement for takeaways and off-premise sales for alcohol beverages until March 2022, attempting to provide assistance to pubs, restaurants, cafes, and markets to adapt and survive. The Secretary reportedly is also considering whether to make the entitlement permanent.

  • English pubs “count the days until Christmas As virus rates began to soar this fall, British pubs facing restrictions began to create new pitches to attract customers. Bars have been recast as workspaces, offering tables for rent to workers weary of working remotely from their homes, offering soft music, coffee and food, internet services, charging stations, and printers. But after the British government’s most recent announcement that restaurants, gyms, and nonessential shops must close again from 05 November 2020 to 02 December 2020, pubs reportedly may not survive unless they are able to reopen during the holidays in December when pubs make 20 to 30 percent of their annual revenue.

Scottish railway bans alcohol on trains – ScotRail has reportedly announced that passengers will not be allowed to drink alcohol beverages on trains or at stations in Scotland for the duration of pandemic. ScotRail said that these measures will help foster safe physical distancing and support the use of masks. The British Transport Police will assist railway staff where required to ensure that people follow the guidance.

Call for tax cut extension for U.S. craft distillers – U.S. craft distillers are reportedly calling for an extension of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2017, arguing it is essential for their survival. Under the legislation, distillers pay US$2.70 per proof gallon for the first 100,000 gallons produced in the calendar year, rather than US$13.50 per proof gallon. The U.S. government extended the act by 12 months at the end of 2019, but if it is not extended again, producers could face a 400% tax hike in January 2021. Combining lost tasting room sales and lost wholesale income, craft distillers are expected to lose 41% of total sales this year because of the pandemic, equating to more than US$700 million.