Covid-19 and alcohol—a dangerous cocktail
Tackling alcohol harms must be an integral part of the nation’s recovery As the UK and most other countries went into lockdown, the need to save lives from covid-19 rightly took priority over longer term health concerns. Many people reacted to the closure of pubs and restaurants by stocking up to drink at home in isolation, and alcohol, along with household items and storecupboard food, disappeared from supermarket shelves. In the week to 21 March, alcohol sales were up 67%. In comparison, overall supermarket sales increased by only 43%.1 Now, as signs emerge of some control over new cases of covid-19, it is increasingly clear that if we don’t prepare for emerging from the pandemic, we will see the toll of increased alcohol harm for a generation. By chance, and just before the pandemic hit the UK, Alcohol Health Alliance started a commission on alcohol harm, aimed at highlighting the damage to individuals, families, and communities. The response was remarkable, with over 140 organisations and individuals providing evidence, writing about their experiences, and describing changes in the system that might have avoided their downward spiral. As we took oral evidence (latterly by video link as the virus tightened its grip), it became clear to commissioners that covid-19 has the potential to be an exemplar of our ambivalent relationship with alcohol and its consequences.
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Citation Covid-19 and alcohol—a dangerous cocktail