Spirits Europe, which represents producers of alcoholic spirits at EU level, has called on governments to reconsider curfews and other measures to restrict the sale of alcohol, as part of their fight against coronavirus.
Amid a surge in cases, France and The Netherlands are among the European countries to have implemented curfews in recent days, which includes the introduction of restrictions on the purchase of alcohol beyond a certain time of the day.
'As Europe battles a second wave of COVID-19, governments are rightly taking action to try to bring the spread of the virus under control and save lives,' Spirits Europe said in a statement. 'However, as in the first wave, these policies are hitting those in the hospitality sector particularly hard.
'As representatives of the spirits sector in Europe, we urge EU Member States to adopt evidence-based, proportionate and time-bound policies, and for the necessary supports to be made available to protect those who depend on our sector, both directly and indirectly.'
It said that it was 'greatly concerned' that many businesses may not survive a 'second wave' of lockdown measures, adding that many hospitality businesses across Europe are 'now on the brink of permanent closure'.
In particular, the group has called on European governments to reconsider:
- Curfews, which it said 'have generally not been requested by public health advocates and which are not proven to limit circulation of the virus'.
- Stringent restrictions on the sale and availability of alcohol, 'which led to stock-piling, overcrowding and panic-buying during the first wave'.
- Reduced opening hours of supermarkets and off-licences. 'Evidence from cities across Europe has shown that the introduction of reduced business hours can result in overcrowding and “rushes” on retail and public transport', it said.
- Rules which discriminate against bars in favour of restaurants. 'If small restaurants can operate safely, so can small bars, if they too take the same precautions as outlets serving food,' Spirits Europe said.
- Arbitrary closures of the hospitality sector. 'The targeting of bars and restaurants is disproportionate, and may have a limited impact on the incidence of transmission, it said.
Noting that the hospitality sector 'supports millions of jobs' across Europe, the group is urging policymakers to 'do whatever they can to ensure that, where outlets can safely operate, they are supported to do so.
'Where they cannot, restrictions should be as limited as possible (to give businesses a fighting chance of survival), and as systematic and consistent as possible (to allow for appropriate planning).'
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.