Liquor stores have been designated an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision is a highly debated, with compelling arguments on both sides.
CCSA’s latest publication, Open versus Closed: The Risks Associated with Retail Liquor Stores during COVID-19, highlights some of the risks associated with keeping liquor stores open or closing them as we try to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Highlights of the report:
- Risks associated with keeping liquor stores open include:
- Increased alcohol consumption in the population;
- A rise in domestic violence; and
- Long-term costs for governments.
- Risks associated with closing liquor stores include:
- Involuntary and unsupported withdrawal among people with alcohol use disorders;
- People turning to non-beverage forms of alcohol;
- Increased anxiety among individuals using alcohol;
- Stockpiling alcohol; and
- Reduced profits for governments.
- Many risks are hypothetical. The only empirical evidence available to guide the analysis comes from studies of liquor store strikes in Canada, Finland, Norway and Sweden between 1963 and 1985.
- Governments need to invest in greater public education about the general risks of consuming alcohol and encourage low-risk consumption.
- Governments should plan to provide additional supports and funding to healthcare professionals to enable increased screening and brief interventions, and to health and social services organizations to respond to domestic violence and provide the needed supports to the victims.
The release of this report compliments a recent op-ed co-authored by Dr. Catherine Paradis, a CCSA senior research and policy analyst, with Ann Dowsett Johnston. Called “Should liquor outlets really be deemed essential services?,” the article further explores the debate and was published in the Globe and Mail on April 17.
This report has been added to CCSA’s COVID-19 resource section, which is the go-to place for information on the impacts of COVID-19 on substance use, featuring resources from trusted sites and original publications from our experts.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the FASD Prevention Conversation Project, its stakeholders, or funders.