On Tuesday, Retail Drinks Australia – a national industry body that represents the interests of booze retailers – announced a voluntary initiative to put temporary limits on the amount of alcohol a customer can buy in one transaction.

The measure has already been adopted by major bottle shops such as Dan Murphy’s, BWS, Aldi, Liquorland, Vintage Cellars and First Choice Liquor.

But independents, such as Melbourne chain Blackhearts & Sparrows, have told Broadsheet that while they’re seeing more customers – especially those buying bottles around the $20 and $30 mark – they’re not yet at a point where they need to put limits on sales.

“We want to now send a clear message [that] bottle shops remain an essential service and there are no issues of supply,” Retail Drinks Australia CEO Julie Ryan said in a press release.

These new rules aim to guard against the kind of panic-buying that has seen supermarket shelves stripped of basics such as toilet paper, hand sanitiser and pasta amid the Covid-19 outbreak. Under the new rules, “[c]ustomers can purchase up to the total limit in any two product categories,” Ryan said.

The limits are:
• 12 bottles of wine;
• Two cases of beer, cider or pre-mixed spirits (in packs of 24 or 36);
• Two bottles of spirits, amounting to no more than two litres, and;
• Two casks of wine, amounting to no more than 10 litres.

They’re applicable in all states except WA, which has cracked down even further. Customers are only able to buy one carton of beer, cider or pre-mixed spirits; three bottles of wine; one litre of spirits; and one litre of fortified wine.

Home affairs minister Peter Dutton has also announced new laws “to stop the exploitative exports of essential goods”, according to a press release.

“These temporary measures will ensure that essential goods are distributed to those with the highest need, such as vulnerable communities, frontline health workers and law enforcement, while safeguarding legitimate trade,” Dutton said.

The Australian Border Force can now seize or destroy stockpiled goods before they leave the country, while a ban on the sale of essential goods for more than 120 per cent of the purchase price has been established.