Confusion over liquor store openings

Confusion arose over the holiday weekend and spilled into Monday after police instructed several liquor stores to close or ordered them to sell curbside only, though the most recent emergency orders allow them and other retailers to operate under the government’s set coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols.

Owner of Base Road Bar George Robinson told Guardian Business that police instructed him yesterday to operate curbside only, though he said he explained to the officers that the emergency powers order gazetted on June 30 allows customer entry with enforced social distancing guidelines and masks.

“They didn’t tell us to close, they told us to do curbside, but we just did the old [way], five people at a time,” said Robinson.

Attorney General Carl Bethel said he was apprised of the confusion and sent a note to Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle.

Bethel explained that the confusion arose because some liquor stores might have been allowing patrons to linger after purchasing and consuming their products on the property.

“There are two issues. I sent a note to the commissioner. Only bars are supposed to be shut down, so for liquor stores or any other retailer, the same principles [apply], social distancing, etc.,” said Bethel.

“But if a liquor store allows customers to loiter and drink liquor in the store, they have turned themselves into a bar. That should be closed.

The attorney general said after hearing of the closures by police, he confirmed that the newly gazetted emergency orders do not mention liquor stores are prohibited businesses.

“The order makes no reference to liquor stores at all. I confirmed it,” he said.

“There was always a clear difference between bars and liquor stores.”

Robinson said while he was not ordered to close, police told him to do curbside sales until July 27.

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