With New York State having about 8,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and the United Kingdom reporting almost 4,000 cases, all non-essential retail services have been placed on lockdown to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, however, said liquor stores can remain open despite the lockdown since liquor stores are essential businesses. While listing the essential services that can remain open in the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, New York includes groceries, beverage stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, farmers’ markets, gas stations, restaurant and bars operating on take-out or delivery services, food delivery/takeout services, hardware and building material stores, as well as mass transit services.
The New York State Liquor Store Association welcomed the development, saying they can even deliver beer to customers’ doorsteps. “Liquor stores have been deemed an essential business during the outbreak of COVID-19, meaning we are permitted to stay open to serve you”, the NYSLSA wrote. “Please consider utilizing pick-up or delivery options when purchasing from your favorite local retailer, and stay safe and healthy.”
People across the state have also lauded the decision to allow liquor stores to remain open. A Twitter user, Jewel Staite, tweeted that “You cannot close the schools and also close the liquor stores. Please have mercy on the parents.” Actor Jeffrey Wright also tweeted that “Are liquor stores essential businesses? If they don’t invoke the 25th amendment today, I’m running outta whiskey tomorrow.”
But in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said all cafes and restaurants and pubs must remain close as the country becomes the sixth with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Europe. The leading five are Italy, Spain, Germany, France, and Switzerland. The UK reported 3,297 cases and 168 deaths according to information from Johns Hopkins University.
“We are collectively telling cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can and not to open tomorrow,” PM Johnson said. “We are also telling nightclubs, theaters, cinemas, gyms and leisure centers to close on the same timescale.”
To lessen the economic impacts of business closure and workers, UK’s Finance Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the government will release £330 billion ($398 billion) in relief package for business loans and welfare assistance. Sunak said the government will pay 80% of wages to workers who are forced to stay at home due to coronavirus outbreak, and that this welfare package is up to £2,500 per month. Meanwhile, all schools in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are now closed until further notice.