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VFI says new alcohol strategy required in Ireland to beat virus

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) is calling on Government to immediately introduce Minimum Unit Pricing and curtail the availability of cheap alcohol as part of the overall strategy to reduce the country’s infection rate.

VFI Chief Executive, Padraig Cribben said, “The availability of cheap alcohol is fuelling house parties that NPHET (National Public Health Emergency Team) say are responsible for the vast majority of infection clusters.

'If we’re serious about returning to Level Two as soon as possible, the Government needs to tackle the glaring anomaly that allows large-scale consumption of alcohol in uncontrolled environments go unchecked.'

Cribben continued, “The introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing, combined with restricting the sale of alcohol in the off trade, would inhibit bulk purchasing of alcohol and send a powerful message that we are taking a consistent approach to beating the virus.

“If the ongoing closure of the hospitality sector – which are safe, controlled environments with strict social distancing guidelines – is to make any sense, the ‘off-trade’ selling of discounted alcohol must stop. In many instances, supermarkets are selling alcohol below cost, which is directly impacting the ability to fight the virus.

Cribben finished, “It’s simply not tenable for Government and NPHET to continually use the availability of alcohol to justify the closure of pubs and restaurants while not implementing any policies that target the consumption of alcohol in private dwellings, which is the main infection source. Our members have had enough of this shocking double-standard.'