USA: States Urged to Ban Alcohol Sales during COVID-19 Public Health Crisis

Federal States in the USA are being urged to ban alcohol sales during the COVID-19 crisis to reduce the damage to public health.

There has been a noticeable increase in domestic violence in the U.S. and in many other countries around the world since the COVID-19 pandemic started forcing people to stay at home.

We know lockdowns and quarantines are essential to suppressing COVID-19 but they can trap women with abusive partners,” said, Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, as per heavy.

We have seen horrifying global surges in domestic violence,” he added.

The UN Secretary-General also stated that in some countries the number of women calling support services has doubled, and for some women and girls the threat is highest at home.

In the United States, some American physicians and women’s shelter operators have called for a complete ban on alcohol sales during the pandemic. Alcohol fuels violence and a ban on alcohol could potentially create safer spaces for women and girls who are in danger of being abused.

States banning alcohol sales

The state of  Pennsylvania shut down its state-run network of off-premise liquor stores because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Monongalia and Hancock counties in West Virginia have banned sales of liquor and beer to out-of-state residents, as those from Pennsylvania started to cross states to buy liquor.

While alcohol consumption has been reduced in Pennsylvannia, it’s not completely banned as purchases directly from distilleries within that state are still allowed.

Banning alcohol sales is a positive move in the face of the pandemic. Already, addiction in the United States is growing as Americans are using substances as unhealthy coping mechanisms, despite the advice of the World Health Organization against this.

Big Alcohol against public heath – even during a pandemic

It’s no surprise Big Alcohol is against the calls for alcohol retail bans. The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America are opposing the bans. Their argument is the age old Big Alcohol claim that black market sales may increase if there was a total alcohol ban.

Big Alcohol has in fact already found ways to profit from this pandemic. Either by enhancing alcohol delivery, increasing social media marketing targeting youth or gaining good PR and free media coverage through corporate social responsibility schemes, the industry is using several strategies – some highly unethical – to try to protect profits.

Considering the significant alcohol burden on American society, including increasing domestic violence, child abuse, injuries, ill-health as well as alcohol use disorder, addiction and other mental health problems across the country – and the heavy strain these place on the healthcare system, banning or limiting alcohol sales would reduce harm and reduce the pressure on the health system; these public health and safety concerns need to include support services for people struggling with alcohol use disorders.