Bottle shops are slated to remain open nationwide — for now, at least.
That’s one of the key takeaways from last night’s extraordinary announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who said a slew of businesses will be forced to close across Australia from midday today in a “stage one” response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
After yesterday’s meeting of the national cabinet, Morrison declared that non-essential services, including all registered and licensed venues, clubs, watering holes within hotels, entertainment venues, cinemas, gyms, and, remarkably, casinos, will be shuttered to limit community transmission of the virus.
Places of worship and indoor sporting venues will also close. All restaurants and cafes will be forced to serve takeaway only, he said.
But Morrison declared “The only ones that can’t remain open and provide those services are the ones I’ve listed to you.” This means that, for the time being, bottle shops are classified in the same category as supermarkets and pharmacies, and will be allowed to trade as per usual.
Earlier, the leaders of Victoria, NSW, and the ACT indicated a more comprehensive shutdown is imminent, sparking a Sunday night rush on bottle shops by punters looking to stock up for a protracted period of social distancing.
Yesterday’s statements from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr did not explicitly mention bottle shops, causing long lines at major retailers across the nation.
Queue in Dan Murphy’s is absolutely nuts. It’s an essential service going by this. More than 100 people in an indoor place at once too ???????????????? #coronavirusaustralia pic.twitter.com/5Q6ILR17ON— Sophie Elsworth (@sophieelsworth) March 22, 2020
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Get your liquor supplies ASAP. This was Dan Murphy's at Brighton in Melbourne tonight. It's the new toilet paper ???? @theheraldsun #coronavirusaus pic.twitter.com/vaDauQdrDB— Sophie Elsworth (@sophieelsworth) March 22, 2020
Increased business was also reported in Queensland bottle shops.
It appears there is a lot of mixed messaging going around, with the states and territories moving ahead of the Federal Government on shutdown measures. But, until further notice, you’ll be able to grab a slab.
Just remember that cramming into a bottle-o with ten thousand other thirsty punters is still probably not the best idea, and be ready for things to change. God knows the situation has developed rapidly over the past few days.