The government has confirmed off-licences and shops licensed to sell alcohol have been added to its list of “essential businesses” and can remain open during the coronavirus lockdown measures.

These shops, which will also include retail outlets within breweries, will join other businesses which have been allowed to remain open, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and petrol stations.

The Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) asked the government for clarity on this matter yesterday when new guidelines came out earlier this week stating shops selling “non-essential goods” would be closed down with immediate effect. The list stated food shops could remain open but it didn’t specific whether drinks retailers were considered “essential”.

This news also matches rules in the US, whereby liquor stores have been allowed to remain open.

Despite this, many shops have chosen to close their doors to protect the health of their staff, and in some cases because staff levels are too low.

DRN reported yesterday that Majestic Wine had decided to close but it would remain open for home delivery. The Wine Society also chose to close its business for the time-being, and Laithwaite’s is also closing its stores temporarily.