If social media is any guide, the funniest family joke in these times of self-isolation is telling your parents that the bottle shops are closing down and watching them panic.
It’s been these kind of internet pranks, including mocked-up news reports from the US-state of Illinois, have led to panic buying of alcohol in some areas of Australia and forced retailers to introduce purchasing limits.
Retail Drinks Australia, representing independent retailers, introduced voluntary purchasing limits this week in a bid to ensure everyone gets a share of of their favourite lubricants.
Other major supermarket outlets have also introduced voluntary limits.
The limits are generous, however. Buyers will be good to go as long as they require only two selections from the following list: Two cases of beer, cider or pre-mixed drinks, 12 bottles of wine, two cask wines and two bottled spirits.
So, to be clear, if you went the beer and cider option, you’d have 96 bottles of full-strength to get you through the day – beyond that coronavirus is not your only problem.
The Retail Drinks Australia move came after Western Australia became the first state to limit how much alcohol bottle shops can sell to patrons, with those limits overriding voluntary restrictions in that state.
Retail Drinks chief executive Julie Ryan said governments had raised concern that alcohol sales were trending towards scenes similar to the toilet paper run on supermarkets.
“We know that consumers like to feel certainty of supply during times of crisis, and our members want to do their part to encourage people continuing to purchase alcohol responsibly as they normally would,” Ms Ryan said.
“Our suppliers in breweries, wineries, distilleries and the wholesale and distribution of drinks continue to be fully operational and this means there are no issues of supply.
“However, it was clear that uncertainty on the impact of supply following the closure of pubs, clubs and restaurants last week caused some people to purchase differently.
We want to now send a clear message bottle shops remain an essential service and there are no issues of supply.”
“These temporary restrictions are intended to operate per transaction, and are clear and easy for both our retail workers, and consumers, to understand.
“Put simply, each category of drinks, whether it be beer, wine, cider, RTDs or spirits, will have a limit for that category.
The industry is also keen that consumers keep retail workers in mind if their requested product is not available.
“Please remember that our liquor retail staff are working hard to serve you and they deserve to be treated with respect and courtesy while they assist you to understand these changes,” Ms Ryan said.
The only ban on alcohol sales in Australia has been on cellar door sales in South Australia after a cluster of coronavirus cases in that state.
And while the misleading memes on alcohol bans continue to circulate, one place where a ban has come into force is Britain’s House of Commons.
The House Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said he had banned the sale of alcohol at the parliamentarians cafeteria as part of a range of measures to ensure there was enough time for members to cast votes while practising social distancing.
“I can confirm that from today the sale of alcohol in the House of Commons catering venues has been suspended until further notice,” the speaker said.
There were no hear hears in the chamber.