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Off-licences declared ‘essential’ by UK government

Shops selling alcohol are to stay open in the UK as the government adds off-licences to the list of businesses deemed “essential” during the lockdown.

In a move that will come as a welcome relief to traders and millions of people across the UK, the government has now included ‘off-licences and licensed shops selling alcohol, including those within breweries’ to its brief list of businesses that can stay open during the Covid-19 crisis.

This means that those shops selling wine, beer and spirits are now ranked alongside supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations and newsagents as stores that are vital for consumers in the UK, along with pet food shops, hardware stores and outlets selling and servicing bicycles.

Pubs and restaurants, meanwhile, must remain closed, but can provide take-away services, while online retail continues as normal, and is “encouraged”, although, as db reported yesterday, mail order and web-based business The Wine Society has announced that it will stop taking new orders and cease all deliveries with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, nationwide multiple specialist Majestic has announced that its website is back up and running just days after it crashed, but that its stores would not be open to customers.

Before the UK Government amended its list of businesses that can stay open to include off-licences, these smaller operators specialising in alcoholic drinks, which are often family-owned and run, were losing out to the larger supermarkets, which are expected to keep retailing, and of course stock wines, beers and spirits.

In other words, the newly-amended list puts an end to the inconsistency of allowing multiple retailers to sell alcohol, but not specialists.

For a full report on what shops can and can’t stay open during the Coronavirus lockdown, please click here.

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