A win for small business in Western Australia

20 April, 2020 by Deborah Jackson

The Western Australian Government has lifted the takeaway liquor restrictions that were imposed on 25 March in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The restrictions were implemented in a bid to minimise alcohol related problems and ensure the health system, police and community services could focus on the response to the virus.

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But the restrictions had come under scrutiny from liquor associations who thought that they were overly complicated and confusing for retailers and consumers alike.

The restrictions were also seen to be putting small Western Australian businesses at a disadvantage while benefitting their interstate competitors.

The Liquor Stores Association of Western Australia (LSA WA) and Retail Drinks Australia had urged the WA Government to revise their restrictions and consider bringing them in line with national standards.

Retail Drinks CEO, Julie Ryan, says that today’s announcement is great news for small business in Western Australia.

“As we have seen, the panic that followed the announcement of restrictions in March has now subsided, partially in response to Retail Drinks’ national voluntary alcohol restrictions announced on 8 April 2020. We are pleased to see that there is now a more uniform approach to takeaway alcohol sales during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We are pleased to hear that the Western Australian Government has responded to the united call from industry and eased its temporary restrictions on takeaway alcohol sales earlier than indicated.

“This is great news for small business in WA, from producers through to retailers and the consumer.”

The decision comes after a series of ongoing discussions between industry, the department of local government and Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia, where all relevant stakeholders provided regular feedback in relation to the requirements for the restrictions.

The CEO of LSA WA, Peter Peck said scrapping the restrictions would enable the packaged liquor industry to apply some form of “normality” to its business models going forward.

“We acknowledge we live in difficult economic times and certain decisions had to be undertaken, even as a precautionary measure, when the global pandemic emerged.

“At the same time anything that can be done to keep small WA businesses alive and operating responsibly is a positive and will benefit local communities.”

Racing and Gaming Minister Papalia commended the Western Australian public for their conduct, and said the positive response from the community allowed the restrictions to be eased after only a few weeks.

“I would like to thank Western Australians for acting responsibly during this difficult time – helping to ensure no extra pressure was placed on our health system, police or community sectors.

“These measures were put in place to ensure those essential workers could focus on the State’s response to COVID-19, and the WA public has acted commendably during this period.”

LSA WA has commended Minister Papalia for today’s decision but highlights that there are still parts of the industry that are struggling and stresses the need for industry to remain united through these challenging times.

“We recognise the work by Minister Papalia, who while keeping an eye over the liquor industry also had to focus his attention on tourism and all small business as well. He and his department need to be commended on this decision.

“We still have large parts of the liquor industry doing it tough, both in terms of the on-premise and the cellar door end of the market”.

“We all need to work together as an industry, strong and united to help each other in difficult times like these.”

Existing takeaway alcohol restrictions unrelated to COVID-19 in particular communities of Western Australia still remain in place.