Off licences ‘vital cog’ in community during coronavirus crisis, association says

Internal message to members warns of being portrayed as ‘profiting’ from pandemic

 Correspondence from NOffLA recommended if off licences were contacted by the media they should stick to a list of talking points provided.

Correspondence from NOffLA recommended if off licences were contacted by the media they should stick to a list of talking points provided.

 

Off licences are acting as a “vital cog” in the community during the coronavirus outbreak, and should avoid being portrayed as seeking to “profit” from the public health crisis, the National Off Licence Association (NOffLA) has privately told its members.

The association, which represents over 300 off licences, recently sent talking points to its members in the event businesses were contacted by the media.

The correspondence, seen by The Irish Times, said “we would like to avoid any coverage which portrays NOffLA and our members as profiting/benefitting from Covid-19.”

“We know that this is not the case, and you are all acting as vital cogs in your community,” the association said.

The message to off licences was prompted “in light of recent media queries to several of our members regarding trade/sales on St Patrick’s Day,” it said.

Following Government recommendations around public gatherings the decision was taken to close the country’s 7,000 pubs, over fears patrons would not have been able to maintain social distancing requirements of 2m from others while socialising.

There are now 683 confirmed coronavirus cases in the State, and three people have died. Legislation giving the State unprecedented powers to lockdown regions, prohibit large public gatherings, and detain people suspected of carrying the virus who refuse to self-isolate has been signed into law.

The correspondence from NOffLA recommended if off licences were contacted by the media they should stick to a list of talking points provided.

These included pointing out that alcohol sales “have been good due to a return to shopping locally,” and that off licences “are retailing responsibility in line with public health advice.”

Owners or managers should state “that we are lucky that we remain in a position to continue to work to help our staff, suppliers, and to provide for our families.”

The talking points said off licences should stress that staff and customers were safe in the shop, and “that we are investing significant time and effort in ensuring our shops are sanitary and that we are practising social distancing.”