Accessibility of ‘essential’ alcohol in the time of COVID ‐19: Casting light on the blind spots of licensing? Academic Article uri icon


  • Among the Australian and UK governments' responses to the COVID-19 pandemic has been the designation of outlets selling alcohol for off-premise consumption as 'essential' services, allowing them to remain open while pubs, hotels and restaurants have been forced to close. In a context of restrictions on movement outside the home in both countries, and where alcohol providers are trying to find new ways to reach their customers, this may lead to an intensification of the social and health harms associated with home drinking. By examining the current situation in both Australia and the UK, we argue that heightened risks from home drinking amid COVID-19 bring into sharp focus long-standing weaknesses within licensing systems in both countries: the regulation of off-premise outlets to minimise harms from drinking at home. We call for critical conversations on how licensing systems should be revised to take more responsibility for protecting people from the health and social harms associated with home drinking, both under COVID-19 and in the future.

publication date

  • 2020