Editorial: Roping off wine aisle not answer

By Michele Hunter


The decision to stop Tauranga supermarkets selling beer and wine after 9pm is ridiculous and would unnecessarily penalise residents for an unknown benefit.

A joint meeting of Tauranga City Council and Western Bay District Council on Monday agreed to restrict the sale of alcohol in local supermarkets to between 7am and 9pm.

The seven to five vote was to stop supermarkets gaining a competitive advantage over bottle stores, which the councils agreed should trade from 7am to 9pm.

If the decision survives public consultation, supermarkets, such as the one I often shop at, will have to rope off the beer and wine aisles from 9pm until their 10pm closing time. While it's rare that I would buy alcohol during this time period, I object to being suddenly denied the opportunity.

If I visit the supermarket on my way home from a late shift at work and want to grab a bottle of wine, why shouldn't I be allowed to?

The aim of the shortened hours is to limit the harm alcohol causes in our community but no one seems to know exactly how or to what extent.

Spokeswoman for Countdown supermarkets Kate Porter, who fought the move, said 98 per cent of shoppers who bought alcohol also bought food.

I agree with her call for the councils to provide evidence that stopping shoppers buying alcohol after 9pm would reduce harm.

If the competitive advantage is a concern, why not allow liquor stores to open until 10pm, if they wish.

For those who want to abuse it, alcohol is readily available throughout the day and I struggle to see how an additional hour of trading is going to impact on their decision to drink to excess.

It is an issue of personal responsibility.

I support rules around the sale of alcohol being enforced at all liquor outlets.

Anyone who looks under 25 should have to provide identification and intoxicated shoppers be denied service.

I also agree with liquor bans in community areas, especially those where children and families spend a lot of time, and tough drink-driving laws.

There is only so much the Government and local councils can do to protect people from themselves.

Roping off the aisles in supermarkets will only frustrate busy shoppers while the drunks remain happily oblivious to the change.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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