Australians face the grim prospect of running out of beer in a matter of weeks unless the amber fluid is classified as “essential” to life and breweries are exempted from a range of closures Down Under due to the Chinese coronavirus epidemic.
Carlton and United Breweries, whose major brewery is in Abbotsford, Melbourne, wants the Victorian state government to include breweries in the “essential services” that remain open as the country experienced a run on liquor stores Sunday as buyers panicked and stormed outlets to buy as much alcohol as they could.
“Carlton & United Breweries, Australia’s largest brewer, is greatly concerned about no beer being available in Australia for at least three months if beer is not given exempt status, and what this would mean for tens of thousands of jobs,” a spokesman told the Australian newspaper.
The company claims Australians “need normalcy in their lives” and believe this includes accessing unlimited beer supplies, something many Aussies took to social media to affirm:
DOES THE BOTTLE SHOP COUNT AS ESSENTIAL? #COVID19Aus
— Thomas Nguyen (@ThomasHNguyen) March 22, 2020
Panic buying at Dan Murphy’s is the most Australian contagion reaction ever. Staff saying the q is 30 mins
— Tim Lyons (@Picketer) March 22, 2020
“You can’t turn major breweries off and then quickly turn them back on. After re-opening there could be three months of no beer for pubs and bottleshops,” he said.
In a press conference late on Sunday night, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said bottleshops, or “off license” alcohol retailers, would be excluded from closures of pubs and dining hotels but gave no indication as to the future of commercial breweries, as the Age newspaper reported.
“Off license parts of those premises [pubs and hotels], or bottle shops, that particularly applies in places like Tasmania, and in Queensland I understand, they will be excluded from these arrangements, they work like any other retail premises – they are not a place of people gathering, in an off-licence bottle shop,” he said.
Beer, wine and spirits were just the latest entrants to the list of items being stockpiled during the unfolding pandemic as Morrison sought to address the issue and soothe worries that the prospect of pubs with no beer was somehow an endangerment to life as it is written in Australian folklore:
Breitbart News reported the conservative coalition leader announced a $38 billion spending plan to limit the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, as citizens were told to cancel domestic travel plans to slow the virus spread.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg affirmed the latest $66 billion bailout brought government and central bank measures to support the economy to $189 billion — or nearly 10 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
“These extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and we face a global challenge like we have never faced before,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“Today’s announcement will provide hope and support for millions of Australians at a time when they need it most.”