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Should it be easy to get alcohol during a pandemic?

Johnson City Press • Apr 20, 2020 at 6:00 AM

As we stay home, away from large crowds and many businesses to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, we’ve had to make changes.

Restaurants can only serve at the curb or by delivery, essential stores are limiting the number of people in their establishments at the same time.

State and local authorities have relaxed some of the rules on those businesses, so they can keep at least some revenue coming in and avoid total shutdowns.

One sector, alcohol sales, have been given extra attention by officials, but some are worried that may increase people’s dependency and bring additional social problems.

The governor listed liquor stores as essential businesses in his stay-at-home order, allowing them to continue doing business while other stores, like tobacco shops, are closed.

Both Elizabethton and Erwin voted last week to allow temporary curbside sales and delivery of alcoholic drinks, saying that the measures were needed to prevent job losses.

We’ve already had a monumental spike in unemployment in the state and across the country, and adding more local residents to the jobless roles could increase the burden on the unemployment benefits system and worsen our bleak economic forecast.

But, we’ve also heard warnings that isolation during mandated social distancing will likely cause mental health problems and increase rates of substance abuse. Allowing easier access to an intoxicating substance like alcohol could contribute to people’s addictions.

We’ve already heard several thoughts from the community on this issue, but we wanted to open up the floor to everyone. Should it be easy to get alcohol during a pandemic? How do you weigh the potential for abuse against people’s desire for the product and business owners’ interests? How would you address a spike in addiction rates once the threat of COVID-19 has passed?

Send your answers to [email protected]. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length.

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