The Queensland government has announced amendments to licensing laws around the sale of alcohol, allowing the state’s cafes and restaurants to sell takeaway alcohol or deliver it to customers’ homes.
The move follows restrictions put in place on March 23, which shut down all “non-essential” businesses and services across the country to help contain the spread of coronavirus. While the government couldn’t predict how long the restrictions will be in place, venues could be looking at up to six months of closures.
The Queensland Office of Liquor & Gaming said it recognises “the significant effect [the Covid-19 shutdowns] will have on the hotel, club and hospitality industries and we will continue to work closely with industry representatives to support Queensland licensees”.
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Under the changes, a venue classed as a restaurant or cafe that holds a current liquor licence and sells takeaway food can also supply booze for delivery or takeaway as long as it’s ordered with food. The new rules are restricted to canned beer, wine, cider and ready-to-drink beverages, and operators can sell a maximum of 2.25 litres of alcohol per order (equivalent to three bottles of wine or a sixpack of 375 millilitre stubbies).
Woolloongabba’s Electric Avenue and Canvas Club, both co-owned by Dan Rodriguez, are already taking advantage of the rule changes. From Wednesday March 24, Electric Avenue will offer a burger and beer takeaway deal for $20, and from Canvas you’ll be able to grab a pizza with a bottle of wine for $40.
Rodriguez has had to let 15 staff go across both venues in the past week. He's since consolidated both takeaway operations to run out of the kitchen at Electric Avenue (the venues sit across the road from each other). He says relaxing the rules on takeaway booze could make a difference in terms of keeping his venues open long-term.
“It’s a game changer for us,” he says. “If I was just relying on food, it would be a different story. With Canvas and Electric, we have a lot of boutique wines and craft beers, which sets us apart. If we were just relying on food, we’re competing with 80 other restaurants in the area. But if you let us do alcohol, it gives us more scope to get that cashflow going.
“If I can get out of this, I have 18 people with a job to come back to. It keeps the doors open so we can hire people back.”