Off-licences added to essential businesses list during UK lockdown

Off licence

The government has added off-licences and other shops licensed to sell alcohol, including those within breweries, to its list of “essential businesses” that can stay open during the coronavirus lockdown.

The late addition of alcohol outlets to the list will be welcome news for many people stuck at home, with pubs and restaurants shut down and supermarkets running low on supplies of beer and wine.

Off-licences will join a list of businesses considered essential to keep the nation running, including supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and petrol stations.

The decision is likely to irk Tim Martin, the boss of the pub chain JD Wetherspoon, who last week vowed to keep his 867 UK pubs open for as long as possible, arguing that closures would not help stop the coronavirus. Hours later Boris Johnson ordered the closure of every pub and restaurant in the UK.

Another retailer that tried to remain open after unsuccessfully lobbying to be included on the government’s list was Dixons Carphone, which asked hundreds of staff to turn up for shifts on Tuesday.

The electrical specialist had hoped to keep as many as a third of its 305 Curry’s PC World stores open as “contact-free” outlets but they have now all been closed.