Home/FIVS Alerts/Focus on Coronavirus: Notable Public Policy Developments Around the World – 25 February 2021

Focus on Coronavirus: Notable Public Policy Developments Around the World – 25 February 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 Policies

South Africa: Excise duties on alcohol to increase by 8% During the presentation of South Africa’s budget for 2021, the Finance Minister announced that the government will increase excise duties on alcohol beverages and tobacco products by eight percent, adding that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to negative social and health outcomes. The Western Cape premier has also reportedly expressed his intention to amend the Western Cape Liquor Act by increasing the price of alcohol beverages in an attempt to curb alcohol abuse. A formal submission of amendments may be made to the Western Cape cabinet in late March 2021.

  • Raising the drinking age and banning advertising? – South African policymakers may be considering new and permanent restrictions on the alcohol beverage sector, possibly by banning alcohol beverage advertising completely and raising the drinking age.

United Kingdom: Pub beer gardens might reopen in April 2021 – Britain’s Prime Minister has indicated that pub beer gardens might reopen in England as early as 12 April 2021. Only outdoor seating would be allowed for hospitality venues, but the Prime Minister has said that no curfew would be imposed, and venues would not be required to serve a substantial meal whenever alcohol beverages are served. Customers would still be required to be seated when ordering food or drink, and the rule of six or a maximum of two households would remain in place.

United States: Some states are making sales more difficult, while others are moving in the opposite direction – In Hawaii, a state senate commerce committee has voted unanimously to approve a new 10-cent tax on all alcohol beverages sold in the state. If adopted, the law would sunset in June 2024. On the other hand, Alabama’s state senate judiciary committee moved to adopt legislation that would lift a statewide ban on the delivery of beer, wine, and spirits to legal buyers in the state. Three bipartisan bills under consideration in Wisconsin would allow home delivery of alcohol beverages, bars and restaurants to sell to-go cocktails, and curbside delivery of purchases made by phone or online.

  • Iowa, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, and Virginia are considering or passing legislation authorising to-go cocktail sales. More than twenty other states are considering whether to allow, extend, or make the practice permanent.


 Bacardi Limited report on pandemic consumption – Bacardi Limited has released its second annual trends report to shed light on alcohol beverage consumption during 2020 and 2021. The report suggests that post-pandemic, 20% of consumers may be keen on exploring new drinks, but as the pandemic continues, consumers may continue to focus for home consumption on ready-to-drink beverages, which grew by 131% in the U.S. market during 2020. Other macro findings included increases in spritzes, low-ABV cocktails, caffeinated alcohol beverages such as kombucha, coffee-based cocktails, and brands that are eco-friendly and even offer zero-waste ingredients. More than 70% of respondents claimed to be drinking the same amount during the pandemic.

IOGT/Movendi report suggests alcohol fueled the pandemic – IOGT/Movendi has released a report claiming that chronic heavy consumption of alcohol beverages can impair immune function and speculating without providing evidence that the risk applies as well to light and moderate consumption. The report claimed that the alcohol beverage sector has exploited the crisis, and criticised industry donations of hand sanitizer and funds to hospitals as self-serving. The report recommends that governments respond to future pandemics by prohibiting all on-trade or public consumption and imposing limits on off-trade purchases.

South Africa: Three bans cost South Africa’s economy ZAR52 billion – A report published by South Africa’s alcohol sector details the economic impact of three alcohol bans in 2020, including a five-week ban between 29 December 2020 to 2 February 2021. The South African Liquor Brand Owners Association (SALBA) reportedly noted that the government experienced considerable losses – 2.3% in tax revenue losses and 21.2% in excise revenue losses – and that South Africa’s GDP lost approximately ZAR52 billion because of the bans.

United Kingdom: Study questions whether pubs can prevent spread of virus – A study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs examined a wide range of licensed premises from May-August 2020 operating under restrictions meant to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. The research, which was funded by the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office, questioned whether pub operators can effectively and consistently prevent the spread of the virus, as policymakers in the United Kingdom and elsewhere consider lifting restrictions. Incidents of concern included various combinations of singing, shouting, and playing music; mixing between groups; and standing and moving around bars without distancing.