15 April 2020, The Tablet

A drink with the quality press

From the vineyard

A drink with the quality press

Two thirds of the UK’s population are reported to have increased their alcohol consumption since social distancing measures were introduced on 23 March in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Unsurprisingly, it was with an almost audible national sigh of relief that, only a matter of days after the lockdown began, the status of off-licences, though initially classed as “non-essential”, was swiftly switched to “essential”, along with pharmacies and food shops.

While some aspects of the economy are in lockdown-induced freefall, alcohol sales have surged and, despite off-licences’ vital status, nowhere more than in online trade. Ian Hamilton reported in The Independent online recently that Google searches for delivery outlets had increased by 2,250 per cent in the last month.

So calls by some for off-licences’ essential status to be repealed could well have little effect in attempting to stave off a rise in problem drinking and related domestic difficulties. The World Health Organization, for instance, has warned that alcohol is the worst possible antidote to the stress and anxiety resulting from isolation and lockdown.

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